The Holy Gospels of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are the tall-standing lighthouse of hope that call ashore all the lost ships sailing in high winds against breaking waves of life. Particularly, the chapters portraying the Passion of Christ deliver His message of salvation and outline the human drama in its entirety, from suffering to victorious resurrection.
As we embark on the spiritual journey of the Holy Week, the biblical vignettes invite us to walk with Christ to the Holy City of Jerusalem, where He was welcomed with palm branches by cheerful crowds, and where He was crucified on the cross of condemnation. Enacting the biblical episodes is a real experience that involves us mentally, emotionally, and of course, spiritually. Day by day, as we walk with Christ through the Holy Week, we strive to correct our lives and purify our souls, so that we may be worthy of His Resurrection.
And here we go 2000 years back in history to join the men and women of Israel, the innocent children cladded in pure white, who came to witness the triumphant entry of the King of Kings riding on a donkey. The scene itself is so profound that we stop for a moment and reflect on its meaning. There is so much humility, innocence, and purity in the person of Christ that the crowd gets enchanted and starts crying out "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!" Matt. 21:9
Then, we continue to walk with Christ. We pray with Him, serve with Him, witness His miracles, listen to His sermons and lessons of life, experience with Him moments of despair and hope. The life with Christ is a life lived to its fullest. We come to understand that whoever lives a prayerful life with faith, can witness numerous miracles happening today and every day around us. In fact, miracles have never ceased to happen. It is the evil, who casts a dark shadow over them and hides from our sights, so that we may live in deceit, deprived from the grace of God.
In the next vignette, we find ourselves in the temple. Here we see the zealousness of Christ, who cleans the holy shrine from smear merchants. The notion of holiness and divinity is above materialism of any kind. Unfortunately, today’s society is buried deep down in the filth of materialism and selfishness. Ungodly people care more about their riches than sacred values and morality.
We are the temple of God. When we are emptied of spirituality, the temple no more serves its primary mission, which is to be a house of prayer. Only with faith, prayer, and repentance can we cleanse our inner world so that God himself may dwell in us.
During this Holy Week, we strive to resemble the wise virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), who brought with them the oil of faith to refuel the torches of their lives, so that they may be ready to welcome Christ, the Groom.
The next vignette is from Maundy Thursday, which starts with Jesus breaking bread with His disciples. There He explicitly reveals His salvific plan and discloses the whole scenario of events that would follow. He opens the sacrificial way of the Cross leading to Golgotha, which would become the way of life for humanity through His redemptive blood.
Then, the Son of God, who humbled Himself and became a man like us, kneels down to wash the dusty feet of His disciples to better explain His worldly ministry and show the ultimate example of humility.
Following in the footsteps of Christ on the weary pebble stones of Jerusalem, we pass the Stations of the Cross. This city has changed a lot since Palm Sunday. The air is full of anxiety, fury, and betrayal. The same people who were laying flowers and palm branches on His path, were surrendering him to the justice of Pontius Pilate. The latter, for the sake of political correctness, washed his hands in order not to take a stance in that matter.
Today, too, the lures of life and societal pressures tempt us to betray Christ by our look-warm attitude, indifference, and hypocrisy, as we turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to absolute truths.
As we contemplate on the meaning of Good Friday, it is important that we focus on repentance. Unless and until we die on the cross with Christ, we cannot gain the eternal life through His Resurrection.
Dear faithful, the Passion of Christ, especially the crucifixion is a true ordeal from human perspective. Only through faith and spirituality can we grasp the salvific act of Christ. In our daily lives, we too may experience tribulations and ordeals of all kinds. However, as true Christians, we should not let that notion suppress our desire for a new life. Therefore, as we have started this journey with Christ, we have to complete it with Christ, without giving up halfway. Let us revive the strong faith of our forefathers in our hearts and revere the Holy Bible as our father and the Holy Church as our spiritual mother.
I earnestly urge you to continue your walk with God throughout the year, through all the stages of your lives so that you may not be stranded in the wilderness of life and estranged from your own Creator. For, when you walk with God, you heart and soul become a censer full of prayerful and fragrant incense.
May the new person born in you during this Holy Week house the Holy Light of Christ’s Resurrection.
Archbishop Hovnan Derderian