I love Holy Week. It’s my favorite week of the year. Liturgically, it doesn’t get any better than this: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
But what about the rest of Holy Week? Is there anything special about Monday through Wednesday? Today seems like a normal Tuesday to me. I still have to go to class.
Certainly, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week aren’t as solemn, impressive, or attractive as the other days; there are no palm leaves, no washing of feet, no long processions, no elaborate chants, no giant candle. Perhaps, however, the “low profile” of these days can serve as a useful topic for meditation.
In this regard, an antiphon from Vespers of the Monday of Holy Week caught my attention: “He had neither beauty, nor majesty, nothing to attract our eyes.” These words, taken from the Prophet Isaiah, remind us of the down-to-earth reality of Jesus’ human life. He was born as a lowly child, lived as a poor man, and died as an outcast. In many ways he was a man who might easily escape attention, especially for those caught up in what the world deems important or noteworthy.
The most trivial things can catch our attention: a shiny object, a sudden noise, a pleasant aroma. If we are not careful, indulgence of the senses can make us habitually intemperate, and blind us to more profound, spiritual realities.
But there is another way in which we, who sincerely desire to live the Christian life, can “miss the mark.” When I was just beginning religious life, a Dominican priest gave me the following advice: “You’ve come this far in your life, but remember, the goal is not the habit; it’s not the Novitiate; it’s not the House of Studies; it’s not passing your final exams; it’s not even Ordination. The goal is Jesus Christ!”
The goal of our lives goes beyond what we can see, what we can predict. As St.Paul says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Learning to walk by faith is like learning to walk at all: we cannot skip a step if we are to do it properly. Every step must be taken with care.
So, this Holy Week, let us learn to walk again: not skipping from Palm Sunday to Holy Thursday, but walking with Jesus every step of the way, even on an “unimpressive” Tuesday.