Today begins Holy Week. For me this week has always been heavy and intense, a lot of energy trying to do the right things, especially if I had been struggling somewhat in keeping up with the whole spirit of Lent. It is a demanding week if I want to be in it – the Passion today, the contemplative focus, the washing of the feet, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the quiet of Saturday, and finally the Resurrection.
I will admit that sneaking up below all these is for Easter to come quick. It is not about fulfilling the hope that Christ will rise because I already know it as an historic event. Perhaps it is the human weakness in me that I want to be release from the strict discipline of Lent, the fasting from alcohol for one that I had courageously or foolishly imposed on myself. It is to get out of this desert for my unquenchable desire to resume my normal routine of extravagance.
To help myself and potentially have the most meaningful week of my year, I will situate myself back into the challenging issues I had faced in my journey through life. They were many – relationship breakdowns, financial concerns, grief, hospitalisations, job losses, 2 maybe 3, and every setback that bred desperation. In the semi-darkness of uncertainty, I wondered when those sufferings would end, and life turn for the better. I remember the many times I had given up on faith, but I still clung to hope.
I compare myself to the people at the time of Jesus. What were they feeling? What went through their minds? I am sure for many, faith died with the crucifixion. But I cannot compare myself with them because I have the benefit of hindsight and my faith developed having known the Resurrection. Perhaps I can compare myself to Peter who denied Christ three times and despite that found himself still affirmed by and in favour of the Lord. The Risen Christ will never abandon us.
We must learn from the past not only from Scriptures but more tellingly from our own personal history. We recall the times when trapped in our challenging issues. We longed for that suffering to end. Perhaps our faith was even lost, and we got angry with God but still clung on to hope. Somehow, that hope led us out otherwise we won’t be in this moment today. I see those days as my personal ‘holy weeks’ for at the end of each period I was risen to a new life. We must learn to give thanks for in thanksgiving will we see Him in our personal life.
My Holy Week will not have meaning and lasting impact if I do not spend time dwelling in the Resurrection during the Easter season that follows. Eagerly waiting for next Sunday to bolt out of the door and confining this Holy Week to another one done and dusted is like moving from one challenging issue to the next without fully embracing the triumph of love over death, of life over suffering, stuck at the foot of the Cross. The Easter season in our personal life is not just the immediate fifty days after Easter Sunday but every time we spend time in thanksgiving for the many blessings of life.
Like the people in Jesus’ time, we want a Messiah who will conquer suffering. Christ was humbler yet even to accepting death, death on a cross. Death is our biggest suffering in life. It is yet to come but we know that death has been conquered.
Hope never extinguishes. Even in the most desperate days when we deny God, hope is the faint light in the darkness. He was humbler yet. Hope is the Risen Christ disguised for us to cling to him. This is Holy Week. Do not let it end without the rising of our own personal life.
Passion Sunday 2022