Monday, April 18, 2011

"Wholly Week"

Would there be a difference in our lives and spirituality if the Christian tradition slightly changed it's focus concerning the meaning of Holy Week? Traditionally speaking, Holy Week commemorates the final days of the Lord's life and it's redemptive import for our lives. Perhaps the greatest stress and emphasis is placed on Good Friday, when Jesus is arrested, charged, scourged, condemned, and crucified. The tendency to focus so much importance on Good Friday has resulted in a perhaps one-sided focus on Holy Week as the commemoration of Jesus' self-offering for our sins. However, what if Holy Week was less about an offering for atonement of sin and more an offering so that we might come into a newness of life marked by unparalleled healing and transformative closeness with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit?

In today's Gospel reading from John, Jesus states something of monumental importance that could easily be overlooked or glossed over. In response to the betrayer Judas Iscariot's objection about why Jesus allowed the anointing of his body with costly perfume instead of selling it and giving the money to the poor, Jesus says, "you always have the poor with you but you do not always have me." (John 12:8) We can focus so much attention on Jesus' redeeming us from sin that we forget that Jesus' offering was also, and, perhaps, primarily, about us having him, God, and the Holy Spirit. Holy Week is really the week in which Jesus gives himself "wholly" to us by entering into every experience that can be constitutive of human life, to include the abysmal depths of rejection, abuse, torture, abandonment, betrayal, and, if that weren't enough, even being unjustly condemned and murdered.

If we were to shift our focus just a tad and approach Holy Week more as "Wholly Week" (the week in which Jesus gives himself "wholly" to us), we would perhaps come more into the awareness of how it can form the basis and bridge for a vital, healing, and transformative bond, relationship, and communion with the God who will never leave us, no matter how far we sink into the mire and ambiguity of all that makes us fully, tragically, and gloriously human. Pat, TOR