Holy Week begins

first_img Tweet 46 Views   no discussions Sharing is caring! Share FaithLifestyleLocalNews Holy Week begins by: – April 2, 2012center_img Share Photo credit: in-formatio.comHoly Week may be seen as a week of high drama. There’s so much to recommend it at that level. There are central figures – Jesus, the religious officials, Pilate, Peter, Judas, the crowd. Even those making brief appearances have more than brief significance – the ‘good thief,’ the High Priest, the women of Jerusalem and the women at the foot of the cross.Jesus is the central character, and the main focus of Palm Sunday, even though in the highlight event, the entry into the city, he says not a word. He’s as silent here as he will be for most of his trial before Pilate.Another feature of Palm Sunday is irony. A king comes riding not on a chariot escorted by armed outriders, but on the most docile of animals, a donkey; a prophet received with wild cheers from the crowd, a prophet who knows that prophets come to Jerusalem not to be cheered but to die; and the crowd itself, wild today and wild tomorrow, but with two distinctly different waves of emotion.Palm Sunday, however, is more than silence and irony. This is where the Passion properly begins, in loneliness, isolation, and a sense of foreboding.Jesus is here willingly. He could easily have taken a detour and avoided entering the city, knowing as he did how primed and set the authorities were against him. Luke’s gospel emphasizes that Jerusalem was a destination he anticipated and embraced. He “set his face like flint” towards getting there (Lk. 9:51; Is. 50:7).The watchword the Gospels emphasize at this junction is steadfastness. This was in other words a characteristic decision, all of a piece with Jesus’ previous history.Faithfulness and obedience were qualities that defined how he saw his life since the day his parents went looking for him and found him in the temple. His Father’s businesswas his business. It became a commitment he would maintaineven in the lion’s lair.Palm Sunday establishes continuity in another very important sense. Catholic tradition has tended to isolate Holy Week from the rest of Jesus’ life, as if everything that went before was just prelude. Holy Week is the real thing. That’s when salvation occurred. Everything preceding was just build up.The Greek Fathers of the Church, however, saw salvation in terms of the whole life of Jesus, and not justits climax. What saves us is the Incarnation in its entire range, not just the few climactic hours on the cross. Let me quote just two relevant excerpts from these sources:This is St. Cyril of Alexandria: There was no other wayfor the flesh to become life-giving, since by its own nature it is subject to the necessity of corruption, except that it became the very flesh of the Word who gives life to all things…There is nothing here to cause surprise. Just as fire has converse with materials that are not hot, yet renders them hot by abundantly introducing into them the inherent energy of its own power; then surely in an even greater degree, the Word who is God can introduce the life-giving power and energy of his own nature into the flesh of his own people.”And St. Gregory of Nazianzen: In becoming flesh, God “bears all me and mine in himself, that in himself he may exhaust the bad, as fire does wax, or as the sun does the mists of the earth; and that I may partake of his nature by the blending.” Or again: “So he is called man…that by himself he may sanctify humanity and be as it were a leaven to the whole lump; and that byuniting to himself what was condemned he may release it from condemnation,becoming for all men all that we are except sin – body, soul, mind, and in every part that death reaches.”Palm Sunday thus begins the climactic week in the life of Jesus, but not a week to be severed from the rest of his life in terms of its saving significance. “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus once remarked when Zacchaeus made his grave decision to change and be converted. Holy Week was still a distant reality.Salvationis not made accessible, therefore, uniquely through Holy Week. Itcomes through an acceptance of Jesus as Lord and a commitment to conformour lives to his teaching and values. This maybe realized in a single moment of great density, as it was with Zacchaeus and the “good thief.” More often, it’s a matter of lifelong perseverance, and faith that the life of Jesus in its entirety represents God’s saving willfor everyone.By: Henry Charles PhD Sharelast_img

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