This is an invitation to enter into the beauty of Holy Week with your community of faith. Easter is beautiful—the rising of the sun, the white lilies, the trumpeting organ, the joyous hymns, Christ’s conquering of death and his resurrection to life—but there is much beauty in the dark depths of Holy Week as well. The last supper with his friends, the betrayal, the agony in the garden, his dying on the cross, all break open the receptive heart and fill it to overflowing.
On Palm Sunday the fickle crowd’s festive shouts of “hosanna in the highest!” give way to their accusatory cries of “crucify him!” Most everyone abandons Jesus to his violent fate as the week wears on except the resolute sisterhood of Marys (Jesus’ mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, mother of Joseph) who seem to have had the strength to continue bearing witness to his passion. During Holy Week we are invited to join them to see what beauty they saw by remaining true to the Suffering One. On Maundy Thursday we gather for communion and the reading of the passion story followed by an all-night vigil in the sanctuary. For those who have experienced this before, you know there is profound beauty sitting in the aura of Christ’s suffering and the quiet of that vigil. It is quite simply the beauty of love’s sacrifice. Only love sacrifices like that and only love can bear to offer presence and company in the face of such suffering.
One could say that by willingly facing betrayal and isolation, emptiness and physical pain, failure and isolation, and by not turning those on the people around him but absorbing them into himself, Jesus, the beautiful Son of God, beautifies the worst of human existence, so that forever they convict the human heart and compel us towards love. The ugliness of all that suffering is made beautiful in Christ and on Easter we celebrate the fact that, in the end, the world has been saved by beauty.