As we enter and proceed through Holy Week, it is important for us to remember that we know how the story “ends!” And, of course, the story of Jesus’ Passion does not end with his death but is followed by Resurrection.
It’s like this. Recently, I had a chance to watch a DVD that re-tells the experience of the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup last June. Last Spring, experiencing the actual games was excruciatingly intense and, when the Hawks were on the verge of defeat, down 3 games to 1 in an earlier round, we Hawks’ fans feared that defeat was at hand. Watching the DVD of that experience brings back those memories, however, knowing that the Hawks came back to win the Stanley Cup changes everything. I recall the anxiety and fear but I know that the story does not end there but ends in triumph.
The same is true of our experience of Holy Week. We enter into the events of Jesus’ suffering and death, recalling his great suffering, but knowing that this suffering has been transformed and that death has been defeated. In other words, we don’t “act sad” on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday as if reenacting Jesus’ death and then act surprised and joyful at the Easter Vigil as if Jesus is just now rising from the dead! He is already Risen! We enter the solemn days of Holy Week with a joy that is very sober because we know that new life is preceded by suffering and death. There is no way around the Cross. Even so, we enter into these celebrations with this sober and understated joy because we know how the story “ends.”
Our celebration of the Resurrection at the Easter Vigil is a celebration of the same joy we always carry with us, even during Good Friday, but now unleashed, unfettered, and uninhibited! Our Easter joy is not so much a sober joy as it is an “intoxication!”