We are now a short time away from the start of the only week that Christianity specifically identifies as “Holy” – the week that begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Saturday, the day before Easter, but does not include Easter.
Why is that? Why isn’t the ultimate celebration in Christianity, the commemoration of Jesus resurrection – the symbol of the triumph of God’s ways of life over the world’s frequently competing ways of death – not considered part of that most sacred week?
Perhaps it is because Easter is, at least in a spiritual sense, a product of Holy Week. Or more specifically, the result of the spiritual process that Holy Week exemplifies.
During Holy Week, we are presented with a summary of the foundations of the life Jesus lived and called us to live, an earthly life which leads to eternal life – life in union with God and God’s ways. Resurrection life, if you will. During Holy Week, Jesus engaged in the fullest acts of faith – integrity in his refusal to save himself from pain and suffering by renouncing the mission that God had given him; moral courage in resisting the powers that attempted to elevate themselves above God; inclusion of and compassion for those considered “least” in the eyes of the world; and forgiveness in refusing to condemn anyone – even those who had a hand in his death.
It was, and is, that kind of holy integrity, moral courage, inclusion, compassion and forgiveness which opens the door for God’s power to raise good from evil; hope from despair; and life from death, to enter the world.
It is that kind of “Holy Life”, embodied in that kind of “Holy Week”, which opens the door to Easter – that rolls the stone away from our spiritual tombs.