I have decided to do a series of posts for Holy Week 2011. I’ll post at least once each day of Holy Week. Not everyone may realize there are lectionary texts assigned for every day of Holy Week (not just Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil). So I will post the texts for each day, possibly some comments, and probably some quotes from others to help us reflect.
As a way of introduction to Holy Week, a quote from Robert Webber [Ancient-Future Time: Forming Spirituality through the Christian Year (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004), 118-119]
As I contemplated the spiritual journey of Holy Week . . . I knew this was not a week for shopping, vacation, parties, or hilarity. I sensed this was the week that above all weeks was to be set aside for the journey into death. I knew the worship of the church would take me by the hand and lead me step-by-step into the experience of death and rebirth, if I would allow it to do so. I resolved then and there to walk in the way of the cross. I purposed to make this the week God intended it to be for me, a week of intense spiritual struggle–and reward!
The texts assigned in the Revised Common Lectionary for Monday of Holy Week are Isaiah 42:1-9 (the Servant is a light to the nations), Psalm 36:5-11 (all humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings), Hebrews 9:11-15 (Christ came as High Priest), and John 12:1-11 (Mary anoints Jesus).
Hebrews 9:11-15 (New Jerusalem Bible):
But now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, not made by human hands, that is, not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement, may restore their bodily purity. How much more will the blood of Christ, who offered himself, blameless as he was, to God through the eternal Spirit, purify our conscience from dead actions so that we can worship the living God. This makes him the mediator of a new covenant, so that, now that a death has occurred to redeem the sins committed under an earlier covenant, those who have been called to an eternal inheritance may receive the promise.
A quote from James Alison (in “Some Thoughts on the Atonement”):
This puts many things in a slightly different perspective from what we are used to. It means, for instance, that the picture of God in the theory that we have that demands that God’s anger be satisfied is a pagan notion. In the Jewish understanding it was instead something that God was offering to us. Now here’s the crunch with this: the early Christians who wrote the New Testament understood very clearly that Jesus was the authentic high priest, who was restoring the eternal covenant that had been established between God and Noah; who was coming out from the Holy Place so as to offer himself as an expiation for us, as a demonstration of God’s love for us; and that Jesus was acting this out quite deliberately.