‘What is Holy Week? I’ve never really known, and I didn’t like to ask.’ In a previous life I was a teacher in a large comprehensive school in Hertfordshire. This was a question put to me by a colleague, behind the lockers in a rather dingy corner of the staff room. It was the sort of question that made it a huge privilege to be an ordained priest, as well as a long – standing member of staff, in the school. The simple answer, of course, is that Holy Week is the time between Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem on the Donkey when everybody cheered, and Easter Day when the great miracle of the resurrection took place. It was the days in between that were difficult.
Today is the Tuesday of Holy Week, the day when according to Mark’s accounts of events, Jesus faced yet more challenging and aggressive questions as he walked and taught in the Temple – and not only from those considered to be ‘out to get Him’. The answers Jesus gave were by no means simple and they were not designed to make his hearers feel comfortable. It is not surprising that his enemies persisted until they achieved their goal of seeing Jesus nailed to the cross on the Friday of Holy Week – and watching until he died an agonising death.
What questions do we ask about Holy Week? And where do we go for answers? Perhaps my answer to my colleague all those years ago should have been
‘Holy Week is a week when Christians set extra time aside to discover the enormity of God’s love for us in giving his Son to die slowly and painfully on the cross. It is a week when we choose to read the full story of events as they unfold, from Palm Sunday to Easter Day, not just the bits we know, and love, but what happened on Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday too, so that we can get to know Jesus better. It is a week when we are honest about our part in continuing to challenge Jesus, and to ask for His forgiveness. It is a week when we engage more deeply with God in prayer to understand how He wants us to show His enormous love in our everyday lives. It is a week that ends in unspeakable joy and triumph as we know that our Redeemer lives!’
I wish you a holy and blessed Holy Week – and a splendid and joyful Easter Day, when it arrives.