Holy Week: That Magical Time of the Year

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Most of us have images of how the events of Holy Week looked and don’t really think about where these images come from. The sermon we heard last night was really good in challenging this. On Palm Sunday we read the account of the passion and this year we read the account from the Gospel of Luke. All four gospels recount the passion but have different details (Luke’s gospel does not say anything about Judas regretting his actions, Jesus being flogged, or crowned with throns). There are scores of movies about the passion and most of them cobble together details from all the accounts and those are the images we carry. A few years ago Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ which he claimed was how those events really happened. It’s worth noting that he included Veronica wiping the face of Jesus as he was carrying his cross which is nowhere in the Bible.

I have to confess a certain unease when it comes to Easter. Part of my unease comes from the elaborate liturgies we celebrate; Easter Vigil on Saturday night will normally go over 2 hours and this week has more RSI (rehearsals per square inch) than any other time of the year. I sometimes describe myself as a closet Quaker when it comes to these celebrations (less is more); I’m grateful that I don’t have to participate in the planning of these things. In addition to that there’s a paradox to Easter: we celebrate the empty tomb. After Jesus was crucified his followers came to his tomb and expected to find his body but found instead….nothing. Jesus made a few appearances and promised that we would all be raised from the dead, and that he would return someday. Over 2000 years later we continue to believe in the ressurection and await Jesus’ return and don’t fully understand it. But, as Fr. Dominic told us yesterday, since we don’t fully understand this, we continue to tell the story.

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