He Is Risen, Alleluia!
Opinion by Father Pat Killilea, St. Francis Church, Kalaupapa
The action began with the blessing of the olive branches. These had been brought by Meli and Rosa the previous day from the olive tree next to St. Philomena Church in Damien’s garden in Kalawao. The church was built by St. Damien himself. This was Palm Sunday and we were celebrating Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. So also, the many churches in the Christian world would celebrate Christ’s jubilant entry into Jerusalem. This is the custom each year on Palm/Passion Sunday.
Of course, we know that the cheers had turned into jeers by Friday as the crowd, spurred on by some of the religious leaders, called for Jesus’ death. As with all mobs, this crowd was whipped into a frenzy and called for his crucifixion. This crowd would not be satisfied until he had breathed his last on the cross. What they did not know, or were unable or unwilling to acknowledge, was that this was their Savior who had given His life for them, and us, on that cruel and shameful cross.
Now we may say that this event happened two thousand years ago in a far-off land. It is another scandalous blot on human history, but it is way in the past. The sad thing is that it continues to happen over and over again throughout the centuries. Jesus is crucified again in his brothers and sisters by the actions committed against women, men and children by evil ones. Oh yes, we can put some blame on the devil because such atrocities are promoted by the evil one himself. This takes many forms, too many to list and too sad to recount.
Holy Saturday always brings a lifting of the human spirit, and so it was on Saturday morning as we came together as a church family to prepare St. Francis Church for the Easter celebration. Then at 7 p.m. we lit the Easter fire, fueled by Sterno. This smokeless flame has been my favorite Easter fire since my days at St. Joseph in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, when fireman Joe Borges convinced me of the benefits of Sterno. I have to admit, however, that a few of my congregation are still a little leery about a fire in church since the previous church burned to the ground in 45 minutes… in 1906.
Still, all went well and we celebrated our first Easter Mass. It is, as always, a celebration of Christ breaking the chains of death and rising from the tomb. Christ lives and reigns forever and ever. Enjoy this Easter season. Aloha.