On Holy Week

by Archimandrite Vasileios

In the celebration of Holy Week, the Lord is presented as the Bridegroom, and the Passion as the bridal chamber. It is not the risen Christ, but the Crucified Christ and the dead man lying stretched out on the Epitaphion who is the King of Glory. This is the secret glory of the Church.

In Holy Week, the great tragic drama, we experience in the Spirit the living presence of the events themselves. The Passion is a bridal chamber. And it is adorned with our weakness, our spittings, our blows, our pettiness. The suffering Lord is the Bridegroom. All of our own meanness is presented, face to face with His long-suffering and forbearance.

Indeed, now is the judgement of this world (Jn 12:31). And this judgement crushes you, because it does not judge you. He does not judge the world, but lets Himself be judged by the world. Now is the judgement of this world. It is an unequal contest. A trial of strength: all against one; and one on behalf of all. Everyone condemns Him to death. Everyone agrees on shouting, Crucify Him. To the question: What evil has He done?, the answer is Let Him be crucified (Matt. 27:22-23).

He has the power to justify what cannot be justified. To avoid hurting anyone. To remain alone. To be abandoned by all. To confront armed and angry men, alone and unarmed. To see them coming against Him. To assist them in their task by saying to them, I am Jesus whom you seek. Arrest me. Leave the others to go free. He has power such that the armed men fall to the ground when they hear the confession of the unarmed Man: I am (Jn 18:6). In the end, He shoulders the whole burden alone and saves all. He descends into hell alone.

He has the power to live as one who is powerless. To conquer as one who is defeated, crucifies, dead. He came to His own home, and His own people received Him not (Jn 1:11). The Church received Him, accepted Him. And He saved it. He is its life, its hope, and its glory. And this is apparent because it [the Church] sees Him and honors Him as King of Glory not in His Resurrection (that could be misleading) but upon the Cross. Hanged, despised, dead. This already reveals the ethos of the Church, the ethos of the Cross and Resurrection. He does not promise you resurrection. Rather, He does away with death for you. He gives you the power not to die (cf. Jn 11:26).

So we come in the end to the explosion of light, the Resurrection of life. It is not we who have won the victory. Nor have we gained things beyond nature and perception through our asceticism and our virtue. He came and saved us. He is saving us. He overthrew the dominion of death. He rises and He raises up the whole world with Him. And all are invited to the feast of joy, "those who have fasted and those who have not fasted."

From Archimandrite Vasileios, "Hymn of Dismissal," 2012