Monday of Holy Week
April 6, 2020
Ps 27:1-3, 13-14
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
Holy Week is a Week of Holy of Holies which is entered once in a year. The Church gives lots of significance to this Week as Salvation was achieved for Mankind on this Week. As we read the meaning of Holy of Hollies in the following description we must understand how it makes sense to us today in this Holy Week. Every Baptised person shares the Priesthood, therefore Jesus has opened the door of Heaven through his Body and Blood which we call Eucharist. As we see the Sacramental liturgy which is celebrated indoors has yielded the grace this year and inviting us to practice in our daily life by becoming Eucharist to our family and to the Whole World. God can not be bottled in the mere Liturgy service but this liturgy which is a summary of God’s redemption must be celebrated in our real life.
Eucharist and all sacraments have two parts one is in the liturgy of Sacrament of Eucharist and second one is the witnessing to God’s love in our real life. We have been faithfully doing the first part of our Liturgy but the real part of witnessing our Lord which is the essence of the Eucharist is missing most of the time , and our participation in the Eucharist becomes a good feeling of redemption but not redemption itself. Jesus celebrated the Eucharist in liturgy in last supper but fulfilled it by dying on the Cross for the whole World. Mother Theresa celebrated the Eucharist in her Chapel in the morning and witnessed the Lord with the homeless, sick , and hungry on the streets . In her encounter she saw Jesus in them and they saw Jesus in her. The Heavens were opened at the streets and Earth met Heaven in the Eucharist.
When we participate in the Holy Eucharist, we enter the Holy of Hollies. In the Eucharist the Heaven meets the Earth through the Body and Blood of Jesus. But to enter the Holy of Hollies there is a Condition and the only Condition is to be Holy or without Sin. The Church celebrates the sacrament of Reconciliation and various Lenten services and Retreats so that every Baptised Christian may enter the Holy Week without any Sin.
This year Lord invites us to the real reconciliation , not only in sacrament but to reconcile with our brothers and sisters . This year let us confess our sins to each other and ask penitential grace by interceding for them. Every Baptized Christian by virtue is a Priest who can perform the rights of all Sacraments in the absence of a Commissioned Priest. Lord has called us to be priests to our Children and Spouses and pray for each other. When we are washed away with all our sins by the blood of Jesus who shed his blood on the Cross and became a Lamb of God for the atonement of our sins , we can enter in to his presence of Holy of Holies and meet God face to face.
Holy Week has a special grace and Holiness as we celebrate the Passion and death of Christ with the resurrection of Christ. So every faithful soul who enters the Holy Week without any blemish or Sin transformed in to God’s likeness and beatitude. Jesus was a man like us with all temptations and Weakness, but he was obedient to God’s Will. Jesus was equal to God himself and had an authority to overcome death but he humbled himself to the Will of the Father and became inferior to his original status as God and fought the temptations of flesh and fear of death by becoming a mere plain human. He did it as a testimony or model to every human to be obedient to God’s Will and not try to become like God, like our first Parents sinned against the God’s Will. God is calling us to obey God’s Will and die for our self will and then enter the paradise of holy of Holies. When we enter the Holy of Holies we encounter God with all his Wisdom, love and mercy. We need this kind of transformation and Encounter with our God in this Holy Week.
The Meaning of Holy of Holies in the Old Testament
The room known as the Holy of Holies was the innermost and most sacred area of the ancient tabernacle of Moses and temple of Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies was constructed as a perfect cube. It contained only the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of Israel’s special relationship with God. The Holy of Holies was accessible only to the Israelite high priest. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the high priest was permitted to enter the small, windowless enclosure to burn incense and sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial animal on the mercy seat of the Ark. By doing so, the high priest atoned for his own sins and those of the people. The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the tabernacle/temple by the veil, a huge, heavy drape made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn and embroidered with gold cherubim.
God said that He would appear in the Holy of Holies (Leviticus 16:2); hence, the need for the veil. There exists a barrier between man and God. The holiness of God could not be accessed by anyone but the high priest, and then only once a year. God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil” (Habakkuk 1:13), and He can tolerate no sin. The veil and the elaborate rituals undertaken by the priest were a reminder that man could not carelessly or irreverently enter God’s awesome presence. Before the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring sacrificial blood with him to make atonement for sins (Exodus 28; Hebrews 9:7).
The significance of the Holy of Holies to Christians is found in the events surrounding the crucifixion of Christ. When Jesus died, an amazing thing happened: “When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50-51a). The veil was not torn in half by any man. It was a supernatural event done by the power of God to make a very specific point: because of the death of Christ on the cross, man was no longer separated from God. The Old Testament temple system was made obsolete as the New Covenant was ratified. No longer would we have to depend on priests to perform once-a-year sacrifices on our behalf. Christ’s body was “torn” on the cross, just as the veil was torn in the temple, and now we have access to God through Jesus: “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body” (Hebrews 10:19-20).
The once-for-all-time sacrifice of Christ did away with the necessity of yearly sacrifices, which could never take away sins (Hebrews 10:11). Those sacrifices were merely a foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice to come, that of the holy Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world (John 1:29). The Holy of Holies, the very presence of God, is now open to all who come to Christ in faith. Where, before, there was an imposing barrier guarded by cherubim, God has opened a way by the shed blood of His Son.