Holy Week Is No Time For Shorthand

There is more at work during Holy Week than any one thing can hold. The triumphal entry, the turning over Temple tables, the parables, confrontations, meals, arrest, trial, and crucifixion put on display a parade of elements so various and complex that we ought to marvel not at how any one of them acted, but at how they all fired at once toward a purpose most of them could not conceive.

Holy Week is not a time for shorthand. Sin? Yes. Sacrifice? Yes. Betrayal? Yes? Cowardice? Yes. Empire? Yes. Politics? Yes. Faithfulness? Lord, yes.

But no yes by itself. The glory and tragedy of the Passion is that Peter’s denial devastates just as much as Pilate’s washed hands and that the woman with the alabaster jar moves us almost as much as the figure she anoints. All of these moments and motives are mixed up in the same drama, and only one of them really understands it.

Times are complicated. Lots of things are happening at the same time, and it feels increasingly difficult to sort out who the important actors are and what they really aim to do.

It’s Holy Week, 2017.