In this week’s blog Fr Paddy explains to us why Holy Week means so much to him and how, for each of us, the cross of Jesus can be a source of hope as we face life’s difficulties at different times in our lives.

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist Papers.

This column appeared in the edition published 31st March 2010

There has been considerable comment, regarding pubs in Limerick, opening on Good Friday, to accommodate rugby fans thirst… Perhaps its not a bad thing that Good Friday is at least been highlighted! We must realise this week for many in our communities does not include the Spiritual. However for many it does and I would like to pen briefly why it is for me.

Holy week is more than anything else a celebration of God’s love for us all. As we journey with Jesus this week, we visit many vulnerable and human emotions felt by him, his family and friends. Jesus finds himself saying goodbye. In the company of those who knew and loved him best, his friends and family, he celebrated a sacred meal, where he promised to always nourish and be present to those who belive in his love. One of his final actions was a wonderful call for all who believe to serve. As he washed his friends feet, Jesus reminds us all, that we are invited to be humble and gentle followers, who are generous and willing to embrace with love the strengths and weaknesses of others who surround us,

No greater love can he have than to lay down his life for his friends

Holy week guides us all in the direction of the cross. The cross tells the story of all our lives. Jesus embraced the cross, its suffering, pain and death to empathize with a broken and wounded world. All of us this week carry in our hearts and homes some of the burden that is the cross of Christ. The cross is unavoidable as we discover his love for us

If you want to follow me, you must first pick up your cross

There are many Crosses in all our lives. We cannot escape sickness, bereavement, unemployment, debt, addiction, hurt and pain they all accompany us perhaps at different times in our lives. Christ not so much gives us answers to the why of our human suffering, instead he offers us a profound and wonderful example.

Jesus embraced the cross with all its misery for all who are hurt or broken in any way. His dying on the cross was an extreme moment of great love. Through his dying Jesus alone entered into the depth and fullness of our human condition, an action which his father fulfilled by bringing him to the fullness of life. His death is necessary to achieve for all of us the promise that is our salvation, the gift of life eternal, forgiveness, peace and healing.

The cross is not just a symbol of suffering more importantly it is a sign of hope. In all our lives it is so important to have hope, a reason to continue, to possess faith in a God who can make all things possible. God loved us so much that in a profound action of suffering he demonstrated he can connect with us no matter what fear, problem, burden or anxiety we may have in our lives. This is a sacred week for this reason.

Where ever we find ourselves to be, may we find encouragement and hope from this important love story.