Holy Week underway; Passover begins Friday

Free Press wire reports | 3/30/2018, 11:43 a.m.
Christians around the world are marking Holy Week, the solemn time retracing the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and …
Bessie Banks, an usher at Riverview Baptist Church in Richmond’s West End, hands Peter Rawlins a palm after the service on Palm Sunday.

Free Press wire reports


Christians around the world are marking Holy Week, the solemn time retracing the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection three days later on Easter Sunday.

Palm Sunday processions in cities and town around the world on March 25 signified the start of Holy Week, with the faithful clutching simple palm fronds and olive branches to commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem, only to be followed later by his death on a wooden cross.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis and cardinals in red robes led a Palm Sunday procession after Mass through the throngs of people in St. Peter’s Square, followed by the papal blessing of palm fronds and olive branches.

The pope concluded by greeting the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, getting out of the popemobile to shake hands as many cheered and took photographs.

During his message, Pope Francis urged young people not to be silent and let their voices be heard, even in the face of corrupt or silent elders.

His message came on the heels of a meeting of young Catholics who told the Vatican they want a more transparent and authentic church, and a day after hundreds of thousands marched in youth-led rallies across the United States to demand gun control.

“The temptation to silence young people has always existed,” Pope Francis said. “There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible. …There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive. ”

But he told youths in his homily that “you have it in you to shout,” even if “we older people and leaders, very often corrupt, keep quiet.”

Pope Francis urged youths to join those who offer praise and not the masses calling for crucifixion.

“Dear young people, the joy that Jesus awakens in you is a source of anger and irritation to some, since a joyful person is hard to manipulate,” the pontiff said.

Some 300 youths meeting at the Vatican prepared a document for next October’s synod of bishops focusing on ways to help youths better find their way in the church. The document, which was presented to Pope Francis on Sunday, asked church leaders to address the unequal roles of women in the church and how technology is abused.

Before his traditional Sunday prayer at the end of Mass, the pope recalled the importance of World Youth Day, marked this year on Palm Sunday at a diocesan level rather than as a big international gathering.

The pope’s message also resonated with the Saturday protests across the United States for tougher laws to fight gun violence, a movement galvanized by the school shooting last month in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 people dead.

Passover, one of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, begins this year on Friday, March 30. It commemorates the Exodus story in which God delivered the Israelites from slavery to freedom.

The festival is marked by a ritual meal called the seder, where Jews gather around the dinner table to retell the biblical story using a guide with Scripture texts, commentaries and songs.

Passover is celebrated for eight days. This year it lasts until sundown on Saturday, April 7.