The Thirty-Sixth Day of Great Lent. Holy Week Meditation and Study Guide (Part I)
The services of Holy Week transform us into eyewitnesses and direct participants in the awesome events of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In readings taken from both Old and New Testaments, in hymns, processions, and liturgical commemoration, we see the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies, and the mighty acts by which God Himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, grants us forgiveness for our sins, and rescues us from the pain of eternal death.
Palm Sunday Evening
This evening’s service calls to mind the beginning of Jesus’ suffering. The gospel describes the plotting of the priests and elders to trap Jesus into convicting Himself as a religious heretic. Through parables, Jesus tells us of His coming betrayal, trial, conviction and execution by crucifixion. The hymns of this service commemorate two things; the first, the prophetic figure of Joseph, who, while virtuous, nonetheless suffered unjustly at the hands of his brothers before being greatly rewarded, and the second, the parable of the fig tree, which in failing to bear fruit, became a symbol of fallen creation, and of our own lives, in which we also have failed to bear spiritual fruit.
Holy Monday Evening
Matthew 22:15-46; 23:1-39.
This evening’s theme is the need for watchfulness and preparation, lest we be called unprepared before the awesome judgment seat of Christ to render an account of ourselves. The gospel reading contrasts the efforts of the Pharisees to trick and discredit Jesus, with the forceful resistance which Christ mounts against their evil. The hymns remind us of the parable of the Ten Virgins, in which the faithful Christian is exhorted to vigilance.
Holy Tuesday Evening
The need for true repentance is the concern of Tuesday evening’s service. This transformation from the life of sin to a life of faith and obedience is exemplified for us in the person of the sinful woman who received the gift for forgiveness when she anointed Jesus with myrrh and washed His feet. The highlight of the service is the hymn written in honor of this woman by St. Kassiani. The Gospel meditation foretells of the coming suffering of Christ and recalls His inner struggles and agony.
~From Father Andrew Demotses, Saint Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church, Peabody, MA, taken from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Department of Internet Ministries, (http://lent.goarch.org/articles/lent_holyweek_meditation.asp).