OUR OPINION: Enter this Holy Week reflecting on the joy ahead

Published 4:00 am Sunday, April 2, 2023

For Christians, this week ahead is the holiest of the year.

Holy Week, which officially begins with Palm Sunday on April 2, recalls the final days in the earthly life of Jesus Christ: from His triumphant arrival in Jerusalem to His crucifixion to His resurrection on Easter Sunday, the act that sits at the center of the hope and faith of the Christian’s life.

In the story of Jesus’ life, we know this week was incredibly brutal and horrific. He was betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver; He was convicted and sentenced; He was stripped, beaten and whipped, forced to carry the wooden cross that would inevitably become an instrument in His death.

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And He died, enduring what mortal men often fear the most, before conquering that death and offering us the hope of eternal life.

We may be tempted to reflect only on the suffering and trials of Jesus during Holy Week, but doing so would be short-sighted. This week also gives us pause to reflect on the sufferings of our own lives — the crosses we all must bear every day. 

Here in Mississippi, we’ve been painfully reminded of that suffering in recent weeks as tornadoes ripped across our state, leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake. Our fellow Mississippians have lost their homes, their family members, their churches, their communities — all in a manner of minutes. For many, desperation hangs as heavy as the humidity in Mississippi air.

We’ve also seen first-hand the hope of community, as volunteers have filled trucks with much-needed supplies, from water to diapers to monetary support. State and national agencies have stepped in to provide immediate aid, helping triage the situation and address needs. But the emotional and economic challenges that lie ahead are almost overwhelming for our neighbors, many of whom live in some of the most impoverished areas of our state.

As Christians, we walk head into Holy Week knowing the suffering and pain that lies ahead – and also knowing that at the end is indescribable joy and hope brought through resurrection. 

As Mississippians, we must share that same walk with our neighbors – a walk that will surely last more than a week or a month. We must help pick up the cross of rebuilding lives and communities and of supporting our neighbors as they try to do the same. And we must continue to offer hope of a new beginning, a new life ahead for those who have lost so much today.

It is the greatest lesson of Holy Week and of Jesus’ life on earth.