The month of April encompasses the second half of the season of Lent, from after Mothering Sunday to Easter day on 21stApril. It is almost twenty days as the Sundays of Lent are not part of the Lenten observance or fast. The midpoint of a journey is always important because you start to get nearer to your goal rather than your starting point. After the midpoint, it is usually quicker to go on than to turn back. Easter and Holy Week suddenly draw closer.
As the name Holy Week suggests, it is a religious observance which lasts a week. The idea is to follow the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. It starts off with Palm Sunday (14thApril) which remembers the people welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem with great joy. There is a sudden change of mood as the clouds gather around Jesus as the plot against him thickens. On Maundy Thursday (18thApril) we remember Jesus at the Last Supper with his disciples and Judas Iscariot betraying him to the Jewish authorities. Good Friday (19thApril) remembers Jesus wrongly accused and found guilty by the Roman governor. He was executed by crucifixion on a cross. He was hastily buried in a borrowed tomb. On Easter day (Sunday 21stApril) the tomb was found empty and Jesus was seen alive.
The journey through Holy Week is often a harrowing time. The events of Jesus’ last earthly week echo some of the events of our lives. We can become isolated and challenged for sticking to our values and beliefs in the face of popular opposition. There are times in our lives where people conspire against us, usually to make our lives more difficult. We try to explain to our closest friends our concerns and worries and they fail to grasp the full significance. We are wrongly accused of things we have not done and are sometimes wrongly found guilty. It is very easy to put ourselves in the position of the victim, but it is much more difficult to place ourselves in the position of the perpetrator. We easily forget that these are the things we have done to others consciously or unwittingly. It is these dark parts of our lives which we are called to bring to God for forgiveness. The events leading up to and including Good Friday speak to us of all that is wrong in us, and the world that we live in. There is no denying that we need salvation!
Easter Sunday presents us with two gifts, that of hope and new life through the resurrection. The hope has always been part of the promise of a relationship with God. The new life through resurrection is a change in the way we view our lives and heaven. Jesus gives both proof of this new life and the grace to receive it. Yet, this is frequently outside of our own experience and this makes this new order so much more difficult to believe. It requires faith rather than proof; this is quite a stumbling block for many.