“My God, my God why have you abandoned me?” A tweet of less than 140 letters announces the final lament of a Redeemer who in the eyes of his contemporaries is defeated and crucified. This would seem the fulcrum of the Holy Week, that Christians celebrate with great solemnity and with a “memorial” round of festivities. Thus does the force, the appeal of a great religion, of a large community of believers, lie in a man, who is God, but who dies defeated? In the eyes of a non-believer, the betraying kiss of a disciple, who celebrated with his teacher the Lord’s supper, could have stopped him forever. To stop a Christ who dared say he was the Son of God? Could a “defeated person” say something to a people like the Jews, a people with a long, proud history? And if he could not say much to those men, to that people, whose wits were less sharpened than our modern populations, can He expect to be recognised as Our Redeemer?
Thus should the Holy Week be considered a great deceit? NO! In fact, that story of a “weak” one, who is also the Son of God, celebrates a mystery of infinite love and greatness.
It commences with a solemn supper that was to be the last for the celebrant. However, it was not to be the last but rather the first of a infinite number of Suppers, that have been speaking to the world for the past two thousand years. Indeed, these “Suppers” represent force and courage for the over 200 thousand Christians who every year suffer persecutions worldwide. Moreover, there are many governments, European ones in particular, proud sustainers of the banner of freedom of conscience, upright lay people, who should be ashamed of Peter’s denial of Jesus along the Calvary, because He lives it fully, who are ashamed of their Christian roots.
Defenders, holders of the banners of all freedoms, remain silent before today’s crucifiers.
There is courage in this Holy Week. First of all, there is the courage of the son of man, Jesus of Nazareth. He invites us to conversion, to the heaven’s witness before indifference. A sign continues to shine: it’s a gesture of that last Supper. It’s the humble act of kneeling to wash a stranger’s feet, which recalled another tweet by Christ: I have not come to be served but to serve. It is a tweet whereby every parent is called to bring into the world a child for the second time, in a spiritual way, in order to bestow the service of human and Christian education, for the formation of conscience.
The task of Christian education thus becomes a major act of serving Christ.
Then there is a day of this Week, sometimes tormented by a whimsical spring, that is closed in the silence of mourning and bereavement. The Beloved One, the Crucified One, the One who faced evil, the ingratitude of the crowd, Pilate’s cynicism, the disciples’ fear, is almost solely comforted by the courage of the woman disciples, pious women, near them the suffering mother, the Holy Virgin, who suffers in her flesh and in her heart the insult and the shame of a son treated like a delinquent. It’s the silence of the earth, the silence of the Good Friday of pain caused by the heap of insults that befell the innocent One for all of us. It is the silence of discouragement of the apostles, perhaps of the same pious women who now seem oblivious of his promise of resurrection. In fact, the days of sadness, indolence, are burned by the heat emitted from the light of the Holy Night that sings the victory of the Risen Lord.
Yes, the Holy Week ends, and it ends well.
The Holy Week ends, and it ends well. And may the life of each and every one, and the story of oppressed populations, evolve and end equally well. The short time in the tomb is the indelible sign that Resurrection belongs to us, and that we are all called to become agents of resurrection.