24th March 2013

A holy unholy week

What is so holy about holy week? After all when you come to think of it the events of the passion were most ‘unholy’. The envious Pharisees planned and pressed for the death of Jesus and the cowardly Pilate ordered the crucifixion even though he knew Jesus was innocent. A desperate Judas betrayed the Lord and then hung himself whilst Peter denied Jesus three times and then quickly locked himself up in a room with the the rest of the disciples who had abandoned their Messiah at this most crucial of moments. The Son of God himself carried the cross through the narrow streets of Jerusalem, was nailed to it at Golgotha and died a most cruel tortuous death. Where is the holy in all this? Certainly not in the actions of any of these people.

Yet that fateful week nearly two thousand years was indeed a holy week. When I was about 8 years old I clearly remember asking my mum why Jesus didn’t come down from the cross to show them all that He was truly God. My young mind didn’t really grasp that the Cross was God’s plan to save the world, to save me and you personally. The film the Passion of the Christ clearly portrays what the Lord meant when He said ‘No one takes (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord’ (John 10:18). The Cross of Jesus, the most holy event in history, was the Lord’s perfect ‘yes’ of love to the Father:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed
1Pet. 2:24.

The Resurrection was then the Father’s complete ‘yes’ to His Son and through Him all those who believe have access to God in a new and intimate way. Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit a new power over sin and brokeness has also been given. We can interiorly live new lives which overflow into our behaviour, our choices and our relationships. We can grow in holiness so that it becomes possible to live in communion and friendship with God. This is what the 40 days of repentance and seeking God in Lent is all about.

Sadly the week can still be unholy because it is our choices which matter. We can still choose to be a Judas not a Peter, a Caiphas not a Nicodemus, a bad thief not a good thief. But if we choose to follow him to the Cross like Mary did, to get up again when we fall as Peter did, to pray and persevere till the end like the disciples did, we are heading not just for a holy week, but a holy life and finally a holy eternity. This is a journey but  we live in the hope that bathed in the light of God’s love we will live with Him in heaven where He ‘will wipe every tear from (our) eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ Rev. 21:4