Though the preparations for Easter began more than 40 days ago on Ash Wednesday with particular religious and personal observances of fasting, prayer and almsgiving, the “Holy Week”, that began on March 25 — the Palm Sunday, includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday finally culminating in Easter Sunday. Each of this day has profound liturgical commemorations but only Easter (on coming Sunday), is celebrated with joyful festivities. The Holy Week curiously throws up several “paradoxes”. On Palm Sunday for instance, Jesus is welcomed as king by the crowd waving palms, singing Hosana as he entered Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover feast (Pasch). It was their response to having witnessed his countless merciful works and his claim to being God’s son.
Soon this very people turned against him demanding his crucifixion from Pilot — the Roman governor. Pilot who confessed: “I don’t find anything wrong with this man”, paradoxically pressured by the crowd hands him over to them, “to do with him as you like”. A day before Jesus would walk to his death laden with a heavy Cross on his shoulders, he spent Thursday evening having a special meal with his 12 chosen apostles. In the middle of the conversation, he got up from the table, wrapped a towel around his waist and despite being the “lord and master”, in yet another paradoxical gesture, he bent down and washed their feet. Emphasizing then the “servant leadership” model of service, he mandated them, “If I the “lord and master” have done this to you, so must you wash one another’s feet”. Following this he instituted the most central Christian sacrament.
He shocked his own disciples while giving them bread and saying, “Eat, this is my body” and “Drink, this is my blood”, while giving them the cup of wine. His body and blood would be sacrificed the next day on the Cross. A greater paradox followed on Friday when the doer of only good and who preached pure peace, forgiveness and love, being God Himself, faced an unjust sentence, was spat upon, jeered as King crowned with thorns and being nailed was left hanging on the Cross to die. A “black Friday” it should have been but it turned out, “Good Friday”. Christians believe that it is through his death he won salvation for humanity. In addition, his sufferings gave new meaning and perspective to our own human sufferings. The final and the greatest paradox of the Holy Week is that after being buried in a grave, what was spoken both by him when was alive and what was foretold about him in the Old Testament, defeating death he rose again. He thus gave not only a new meaning to life — but also a gift of everlasting “life with him” in heaven.