Holy Week

jesusWe are about to enter what is for most Christians the holiest time of the year; the time when we remember the events that led to the suffering, death and after three days the rising of Jesus.

There is always the danger that these events become so familiar that we hardly think of them. If that is the case it is a pity for these are the events that gave a completely new thrust to the journey of humankind. There are countless ways of explaining them but we can take the simple way that Jesus himself took: by explaining them through a parable, for example, the prodigal son, mwana akarasika.

It is easy to see the younger son as typical of many of us. Countless young people live as though they did not have a care in the world. They live for the day. They set out to enjoy life. What was it the poet said?

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive

But to be young was very heaven.

It is wonderful to enjoy life but the trouble comes when we start making choices based purely for the purpose of pleasure. Happiness and pleasure are always the by-product of good choices made about some thing else. You cannot choose happiness in itself. You have to choose something that will give you happiness. So the young man got lost in his choices and sank deeper and deeper into the hole he had made for himself.

Then there is this beautiful phrase, he came to his senses (Luke 15:16). He said to himself, what am I doing? Im ruining my life. I will arise and go to my father. And he did. Then the spotlight shifts to the father who, we learn, was looking out for him all the time and saw him when he was still a long way off. There follows the moving scene where the son says his piece and confesses his failure, but the father almost interrupts him in his eagerness to forgive and celebrate his return. Quick, he says, bring out the best robe We can sense the intense joy of the father on seeing the son return to him and they have a feast.

This simple story, so easy to understand, is the story of Holy Week. Jesus himself walks with us in a distant country. He suffers what we suffer. In fact, he carries our sufferings (Isaiah 53:4), making them light for us. And if we come to our senses we recognise he is there inviting us to arise and go to the Father. There is no question of judgement, of punishment. The only thing we have is a celebration. And it is clear from the story that the young man is twice the person he was before he went astray.

The elder brother cant take it. He cant even call him my brother. He says this son of yours has done wrong. He should be punished. How can you just forgive like that? It makes no sense and he will have none of it. The father pleads, citing the only reason that moves him to act as he does; your brother was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found. The new life throbbing through the climax of the story is what Holy Week is all about.

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