Donkey, Wood, Wood, Stone

It’s now just two weeks to Palm Sunday, and therefore three to Easter Sunday. The services of the Sacred Triduum or Three Days – of Maundy Thursday evening, Good Friday afternoon, Saturday evening and Easter Sunday are best seen as a single feast. These liturgies have a special and memorable character and deserve our best efforts for their celebration. They also deserve the best efforts of all of us to take part in them!

But what about where they took place, these saving events that we celebrate in Holy Week? I mean where specifically…

If you think about it the answer is quite extraordinary. Where was Jesus on Palm Sunday? Yes, he was entering the great city of Jerusalem – but on the back of a donkey! Where did He institute the Eucharist and the Priesthood? Again, in an upper room in that city – but he left us the Sacrament of the new and everlasting covenant on a wooden table, probably bare and rough. Where was the final altar on which He offered himself for us, and for our salvation? A cross of even rougher wood… And finally where precisely did the Resurrection take place, where did the Eternal Father raise His Son from the dead in the power of the Holy Spirit? On a slab of stone in someone else’s sepulchre, in darkness, on His own.

So, on a donkey, a humble wooden table, an even humbler Cross, and on the stony coldness of a grave slab. These are the places where these great moments took place, events which changed the world and brought us salvation. You couldn’t get locations more simple, could you?

So we now have a couple of weeks to prepare for the opportunity to renew our faith at its very sources. What do these profound occasions mean to you? Perhaps remembering their simple locations will help you home in on the heart of Holy Week. This in turn will help you home in on the heart of our Faith. What do you make of a God who triumphs on a donkey, gives us the gift of himself on some wooden planks, dies on some others, and rises on cold, dark stone?

Familiarise yourself with the services beforehand, reflect on the readings, and make every effort to come to the churches where they take place. Most of all, watch Jesus in this holiest of weeks, because this – all of this – was done for you!

Fr Matthew