By Father Dominic Emmanuel
Apr 18, 2014
We are in what the Christians consider, “the Holy Week”. It began with last Sunday, commonly known as the Palm Sunday when Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem to the shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David”.
Hardly two days later, Jesus’ emphatic welcome turns into a saga of suffering and defeat, resulting into the death of the Son of God on the Cross.
On Holy Thursday, before His death on Good Friday, Jesus, during the last supper with his disciples, gets up to wash the feet of his disciples. Peter who was eventually made the leader among the apostles, objects to the Lord and Master, stooping to wash disciples’ feet. Jesus gently reminded him of its purpose saying, “If I the Lord and Master have done this to you, so must you do to one another”. Jesus’ act symbolised supreme humility and service.
After washing the feet he performed another act, which has become central to Christianity. Jesus returned to the table and after breaking the bread he gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat. This is my body which will be given up for you”, (next day on the Cross). He then took the Chalice filled with wine and giving it to them said, “Take and drink. This is my blood that will be shed for you and for all”.
Through this act, Jesus meant to remain, in “flesh and blood”, for all future generations who would gather in His name for worship. This presence — the Eucharist — is celebrated daily in churches.
On Good Friday Jesus surrendered his last breath to God on the Cross, while praying for his enemies, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing”.
Modern-day Mystic Cynthia Bourgeault suggests why Jesus had to pass through the ordeal of the Cross. “If he were indeed here on a divine mission, it would seem that he could have been given an easier career path: chief priest, political leader, the Messiah that people expected him to be. From any of these launching pads he would have been well positioned to ‘put is teachings out there’ and impact the consciousness of his times in really a significant way. But none of these opportunities materialised. Why? Because the path he did walk is precisely the one that would most fully unleash the transformative power of his teaching. It both modelled and consecrated the eye of the needle that each one of us must personally pass through in order to accomplish the ‘one thing necessary’ here: to die to self”.
That puts the whole event of the Holy Week in perspective and that is why one of the teachings of Jesus includes: “Unless a grain of wheat falls in the ground and dies, it does not produce fruit”.
Father Dominic Emmanuel is the director of communication of the Delhi Catholic Church.