Hope for Holy Week

By Kathryn Jean Lopez Published on April 10, 2023

Justin always seems shocked that I remember his name. It’s such a small thing, but it sure seems to mean a great deal to him.

He’s homeless, but he says being homeless in New York is much better than being homeless in other places. He tells me about the coffee place that always shares caffeine and sandwiches. I run into him outside a supermarket, and I suspect I’m far from the only person who picks up an item or two at his request. But the more important thing is the name: He says people talk with him here. They care about him and want to know where he sleeps. He knows he is not alone.

I don’t know how Justin does it.

A Greater Love

In his Palm Sunday homily, Pope Francis, fresh from being released from the hospital, said:

In the hour of his abandonment, Jesus continued to trust. At the hour of abandonment, he continued to love his disciples who had fled, leaving him alone. In his abandonment, he forgave those who crucified him. Here we see the abyss of our many evils immersed in a greater love, with the result that our isolation becomes fellowship.

This idea of isolation transforming into community is something I frequently encounter on the streets of my native New York City.

Francis remembered a German man who recently died on the streets of Rome. He would sleep by one of the colonnades by St. Peter’s Basilica. The story of Christianity is the story of that German man not being alone and forgotten.

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Jesus, Pope Francis said, “wants us to care for our brothers and sisters who resemble him most, those experiencing extreme suffering and solitude.” He emphasized:

Today, dear brothers and sisters, their numbers are legion. Entire peoples are exploited and abandoned; the poor live on our streets and we look the other way; there are migrants who are no longer faces but numbers; there are prisoners who are disowned; people written off as problems.

Listen to the Cries of Pain

Pope Francis doesn’t make news with his homilies. But reading them could help remind us why faith is critical, what Christianity is all about and why it is a blessing when its tenets are carried out.

Holy Week this year brought with it news of abominations β€” a report out of Baltimore about abuse and coverups in the Church. I had a difficult conversation with an Uber driver in Boston about the history of the Catholic Church there. He was convinced that there was something evil in the core of Church teaching that made men do such things. That’s the rot! The demon of abuse keeps people from the love of God.

During his homily, Francis said:

Countless other abandoned persons are in our midst, invisible, hidden, discarded with white gloves: unborn children; the elderly who live alone: they could perhaps be your father or mother, your grandfather or grandmother, left alone in retirement homes; the sick whom no one visits, the disabled who are ignored; and the young burdened by great interior emptiness, with no one prepared to listen to their cry of pain.

It would be a crime to ignore his words.

Whatever we believe, there is a deeper love that these holy days call us to. If we try to listen to it and act upon it, we might just give someone hope.

 

Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living. She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York, and is on the board of the University of Mary. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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