Although we focus on a person and an event—Jesus of Nazareth, and his birth, life, death, and resurrection—that happened once in history, almost two thousand years ago, our celebration of that is cyclical. Each year our Church relives the story, with the same intensity. We prepare for Jesus’ birth, then we celebrate it. We start considering his ministry. Then, for the past almost six weeks, we’ve been preparing for this week: Holy Week. Each year we focus on the great tragedy, the almost inconceivable truth that humans executed God as a threat to religion and to World Empire. And then we celebrate the fact that death could not hold Jesus down, that God’s last word is not death, but life: Jesus rises from the dead.
We have this whole week, though, to consider the first part. What is it that could make people want to kill the Prince of Peace, the Messiah, the One who preached God’s kingdom and healed the sick? Why is it that the Church gives us an entire week each year to focus on Jesus’ passion and death? I think the answer lies in the fact that we, too, can easily do the same as the people of Jerusalem did that fateful Friday around the year AD 33. I can hail Jesus as my Saviour and Lord. I can say that I believe, and that I am a faithful member of the Church, founded by Jesus, carried down to us through almost two millennia. And at the same time, I can easily forget what Jesus taught. I can become attached to my comforts. I don’t want anyone to upset my life. Why are those refugees pouring into “my” country? Why are there so many changes? This used to be a Christian nation. Everything was closed on Sunday. Now look at it. It’s all about convenience. And why do they keep harping on climate change? Things are alright. I kind of like not having to shovel as much snow. There’s no real problem. Government is threatening my way of life. It might not have been perfect before, but it was good. We were Christians, and lived by Christian values.
Each and every time I think that way (and it is far more often than I would care to admit), I am buying into the same mindset as the people of Jerusalem that fateful week so long ago. I don’t want anything to threaten my way of life. And yet the world changes. The first Christians were a small minority, whose values often clashed with society. They cared for one another. They pooled their resources so that nobody went without, and they did not have many comforts. That’s not exactly the way I live today; how about you? Might this Holy Week be a good time to examine our priorities?