Holy Week and Our Eternal Salvation

The following homily was given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on April 1, Palm Sunday, at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

When all is said and done, what is it that matters most in each of our lives? Is it good health, a distinguished career, a good family, financial security? Yes, all these and more have a place in our lives, but do these matter most? What matters most is our eternal salvation, that is, allowing the salvation which Jesus gained for us by His Dying and Rising to be really effective in our lives. This is why we are created, given human life and then, in baptism, God's own life — divine grace. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us in its opening paragraph: "God … in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life" (No. 1).

By His suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ freed each of us from the permanence of evil, sin and death and obtained for each of us the ability to share God's own life of grace through our "yes of obedient faith." So, the Mystery of Christ's Dying and Rising lies at the very core of our Catholic Christian faith and life.

This week — Holy Week — offers us another privileged opportunity to relive these saving events of our salvation. As we take part in the liturgies of this week, beginning with today's liturgy of Passion (Palm) Sunday, going on to the liturgies of Holy Thursday and Good Friday and concluding with the liturgies of the Easter Vigil and Easter Day, we are being drawn into the saving reality we call "the Paschal Mystery." Especially during the days of the Easter Triduum, we will truly share in Christ's passion and resurrection, humiliation and glorification, self-emptying and exaltation, suffering and rising to new life. United to Him, we will die to sin and eternal death and rise to new life. As the Preface for today's Mass puts it, "By his dying he has destroyed our sins. By his rising, he has raised us up to holiness of life." If we really take part in the liturgies of Holy Week and experience Christ's divine mercy in the sacrament of penance, we are being transformed by Christ's Dying and Rising and are being strengthened and led ever more closely to what matters most: our being saved by the Lord Jesus so as to live His blessed life forever in heaven.

Yes, let us make the most of Holy Week, which begins today, so that one day we may reach what matters most: eternal life with Jesus our Redeemer and Lord. As the ending of the Prayer of Blessing over the Palms reminds us, "may we reach one day the happiness of the new and everlasting Jerusalem by faithfully following him." A blessed Holy Week to each of you!

Bishop Paul S. Loverde


Bp. Paul S. Loverde is the bishop of the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia.

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