Reflection on the story of Holy Week

You can hear a tragic story or watch it as a film over and over again, yet still you sit on the edge of your seat, willing it to turn out differently.

In the film “Titanic” you see Captain Smith receive the ice warning and you want to scream at him, “Slow down you fool. You are sailing into disaster.”  And when the sailor at the wheel tries to get round the iceberg you are thinking, “go on, go on. Turn it harder. Please don’t let the ship crash,” but you know all the time that the ship will end up sinking.

As you listen to the story of the Last Supper and see Jesus get up and lead his disciples out, you are thinking ‘please don’t go, Jesus. Don’t go out into that garden whatever you do. They are going to kill you.”  And then, when we listen to the disciples talking together, deciding what they are going to do, we are thinking “No, Peter, don’t go off on your own. You are going to make a huge mess of things and you will hate yourself for it. “

But all the time we know what is going to happen. Before the cockerel crows Peter will deny three times that he knows Jesus. And Jesus will be taken away to be crucified.  It just does not stop us hoping that our wishes and prayers and efforts can somehow change the story.

Jesus’ story through Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Holy Week is a tragic one. It is filled with pain and cruelty, injustice and prejudice, despair and heartbreak. And over it all is a sense of helplessness- there was nothing that any person of love and faith and justice could do to stop these terrible things happening. 

There are two things here we might to hold onto-

First, Jesus said, “this has to happen.” He never tried to stop these terrible things happening to him. He knew that his pain and loneliness and death were the only means by which hurting, lonely, frightened human beings could let God get close to them.  And he was willing to make that sacrifice. 

Pain and injustice and tragedy are not always dead ends. They can lead to something greater. Small comfort when you are going through it, I know, but a ray of hope for the future.

And second, when we sit on the edge of our seats, clenching our fists and wondering why our thoughts and prayers and efforts cannot somehow change the course of a tragic tale, take heart from the possibility that while we cannot change the tragedies of the past, we might just be able to avert the tragedies of the future.  By believing in Jesus Christ who did conquer pain and sickness with healing; hatred and prejudice with love; death and destruction with resurrection; we, in following him, may find that we can do the same- that we can be the people who change the course of tragic events to come and save lives apparently doomed to destruction.