A few weeks ago, I was blessed to be the director of the diocesan YES! retreat weekend. YES! is a weekend retreat for high school-age students and it is centered around the sacraments and includes a team of teens and adults. This retreat reminds us of the various ways we have said “yes” to God and the ways He continues to call us to say “yes” to Him.
As we enter Holy Week, we are reminded of the ultimate “yes” that Jesus made for us when He willingly took up our sins and our shame, and sacrificed Himself for our eternal life. Through Holy Week we are reminded of the many yeses and nos that were uttered to God in just that one week.
There are so clear and memorable ways during this week that people said “no” to Christ. We know that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. We know that his betrayal led to Christ’s being arrested and killed. We know that even though Jesus gave Peter a head’s up, he still denied Him three times. We know that instead of standing up for what he knew was right, Pilate washed his hands of the situation and handed Him over to be crucified. I think the no that we often forget about are the other Apostles who abandoned Jesus in His worst moment. We read in Scripture that the only Apostle at the cross when Jesus died was John. The others were hiding in fear that they would be connected to Jesus and would meet the same fate. Sometimes when we say no to Jesus, it is not just in those big Peter and Judas moments. Often it is in small ways. It is when we are called to be there for someone else but we choose to do something for ourselves instead. It involves those moments we are called to stand up for someone but we are afraid of what other people will say, so we do nothing. It is those moments we are called to listen to our parents but going against what they ask us to do is more appealing. It is that morning alarm clock that tells us to get up and go to church but we choose sleep or sports instead. Saying no to Christ does not always look like Judas collecting money to turn Him in to the authorities. Sometimes it is just not being where we should be.
Thankfully we also see the many people who said “yes” to Jesus during this Holy Week. We see the woman of Jerusalem who runs out to Him while He is carrying His cross, not worried about her own safety. We see Simon, a stranger to Jesus, help carry His heavy cross all the way to His place of death. We see Mary run to her son, push through the crowds, to hold Him as He struggles to carry His cross. We see Veronica ignore her own safety, and wipe the blood off His face. We read about Peter, after the crucifixion, going on to evangelize and bring Christ’s love and story to others. Even after a no, Christ continued to challenge Peter to say yes.
Today, just like the followers of Christ 2,000 years ago, Christ is calling us to say yes to Him. He is calling us to continue to say yes even after we have said no. This Holy Week is a reminder to us of the graces that pour out when we respond to God with a yes.
May you have a blessed and beautiful Easter season!
Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.