This month takes us on a journey following the last weeks of Jesus Christ’s life. This season is called Passiontide. The week before Easter is called Holy Week. It starts with Palm Sunday (2nd April) which remembers the people welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem with great joy. There is a sudden change of mood as the clouds gather around Jesus and the plot against him thickens. On Maundy Thursday (6th April) we remember Jesus at the last supper with his disciples and Judas Iscariot betraying him to the Jewish authorities. Good Friday (7th April) 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 9th April) 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 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 when 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 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 that 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, hope and new life through the resurrection. 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 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.
I was reminded of the scientist Galileo. He is credited with showing how gravity worked by dropping two differently-sized balls off the leaning tower of Pisa (although it is likely that this is fictitious). Galileo challenged the idea that the earth was stationary and that the sun, moon and stars revolved around it. The importance of the earth being made by God putting it at the centre of the universe was threatened by this. The religious authorities could not accept such a change in the world order and forced Galileo to confess that he was wrong. Today we can look at the earth from space and see it revolving around and moving. Galileo was proved right but only after his death.
We are left to believe and trust in the resurrection of Jesus and the new hope it brings to the world.