I always look forward to Holy Week and Easter at St. Mark's. Our liturgies are beautiful and profound, and they always deepen my faith. We have spent much time over the past weeks preparing so that when Palm Sunday arrived, we could simply relax and enjoy the liturgies. It is important to me that this not be a week when we are rushed with church business. Rather we are given this holy space to enter into the central mysteries of our faith with a renewed clarity and intentionality.
The liturgies of the Triduum (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter) have their roots in the historic liturgies of the church in Jerusalem. Since the death and resurrection of Christ, pilgrims have always desired to worship in the holy city during this most holy week. To accommodate the pilgrims, the church created liturgies to re-enact the life of Christ, and now these liturgies are the central acts of Holy Week. Just as it was on that first Maundy Thursday, churches around the world will wash feet and commemorate the Eucharist on this day; tomorrow they shall venerate the cross upon which our Lord died; and in the dark hours of the early morning of Easter, Christians throughout the world will light candles and proclaim the risen Christ.
For those who engage their faith this Holy Week, the life of Christ will become more profound and meaningful.It is important for all of us to have our feet washed, to venerate the cross, and to light the new fire - to turn off our cell phones, to suspend our television shows, to place limits on the hours of our workplaces - to allow God's life to wash over us yet again - to be present at the cross and the empty tomb - to put God first before everything else in our lives. These are not just little disciplines that we do for one week of the year. These are life-giving days that continue to transform the life of the world.
Last Sunday in the Passion according to St. Matthew we encountered a number of side-line characters and their ultimate faithfulness to Christ. We saw the women care for Jesus, we watched Simon of Cyrene, an African, carry the cross when Jesus was exhausted, and we heard the centurion's faithful acclamation when Jesus died. No doubt that all of them had their lives changed forever through their time with Christ. This week we have the same opportunity - to have our lives changed by being in the presence of Christ. The cross and the empty tomb continue to hold the same power as they did during Jesus' day. Just like those faithful characters of the first Holy Week, we shall be given the same opportunity this week - to witness firsthand how the death and resurrection of Christ shall save us all once again.
Father Paul Lillie+