My Dear Parishioners,
This week we enter upon what is really the most important period in the Church Year - Holy Week and Easter. It is a time when the faithful people of God, locally and throughout the world, recount our Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Thus our participation in worship services and in the extra devotions and events organized in the Parish, help to call to mind the final days of Jesus’ life on earth; they will be seen as being necessary for our spiritual life and witness, as Christians in the 21st. century.
Over two thousand years ago, a wonderful event took place which effected the world for all time. It was the day that changed the world for good; indeed, the day that changed history. It was the Day that our Lord Jesus Christ died. Today the Church observes and celebrates the events leading to his Passion and Death. These include his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem, when the crowds hailed him as their King, but denounced him a few days later with the sad words, “let him be crucified”. It is therefore true to believe that the only reason why Good Friday is so called, has to do with the good that came from it for the salvation of the whole world. Three days after his death, Jesus rose victorious from the dead and that is what we call Easter Day — the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Our Lord voluntarily gave up his life for a reason, and we can begin by examining the events which took place beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane. Gethsemane was on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem, one of Jesus’ favourite places.
It was here that Jesus expressed to his dear friends who had been with him from the time of their call to ministry (‘to fish for people’) his deep distress and troubled heart. That heart was really overwhelmed with sorrow and grief, almost to the point of death. He therefore asked help from his disciples for he needed their friendship now more than ever. “Stay here and keep watch,” he told them. Then moving away from them, he falls to the ground. He cannot help it and he knows the abuse, suffering, and evil that was to come. So Jesus prays to his heavenly Father, asking that if possible God might take away the cup of suffering from him. Yet he would rather do God’s will whatever the cost, and therefore acknowledges that he would drink the deadly cup. While Jesus is talking to his sleepy disciples, Judas the betrayer approaches, bringing others with him to seize and arrest him.
Of course Judas was aware that the people knew Jesus well enough by sight. Yet Judas felt that in the dim light of the garden, they needed a definite indication of the one whom they were to arrest. So he chose the most terrible and deceptive of signs - a kiss. It was of course customary to greet a rabbi with a kiss, as it was a sign of respect and affection for a well-beloved teacher. This sign of betrayal was not a mere form of a kiss of respectful greetings. It was a lover’s kiss, which make it the most grim and awful occurrence in all the gospel story.
The arresting mob came from the chief priests, the scribes and the elders, the three section of the Sanhedrin police and the Jewish religious council. They marched Jesus away to the High Priest. Here the disciples’ nerves cracked, as they could not face it for they were afraid that they too might share the same fate as their Master. They all forsook him and fled. Through
all this, Jesus displays serenity, since the struggle in the garden was over, and there was a peace within him, as of a man who knows that he is following the will of God.
We may indeed say that this trial was unfair, especially as many testified against him and their statements did not agree. Today we still deny his kingship and dethrone him by our deeds and actions. May Holy Week be for us a time of reflection and renewal in the Lord.
With my prayers and blessing. Archdeacon Emeritus