By Jennifer Brinker, Joseph Kenny and Dave Luecking
In Holy Week, we honor the pinnacle of the Catholic faith, when Jesus rose from the dead as part of God's salvific plan for humanity. This is bigger than Christmas. It's a reminder of His infinite mercy for us, and a time in which we grow closer to Him in love.
Anointing, in Biblical and other ancient symbolism, is rich in meaning: Oil is a sign of abundance and joy; it cleanses (anointing before and after a bath) and limbers (the anointing of athletes and wrestlers); oil is a sign of healing, since it is soothing to bruises and wounds; and it makes radiant with beauty, health, and strength. Anointing with oil has all these meanings in the sacramental life (CCC 1293-4).
Most people know about the big celebrations of Holy Week — Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil, Easter Mass.
On Palm Sunday, we journey with Jesus through the final week of His earthly life. As He travels to Jerusalem on a donkey, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road, "praising God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed, 'Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.'" This echoes the angels in Bethlehem who proclaimed His birth. The rest of the Palm Sunday readings tell a different story.