Malankara World

Passion Week (Holy Week)

What Do We Celebrate in Passion Week

by Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Geevarghese Kunnath, MD Cor Episcopa, Malankara World Board Member

When we look at the Holy week beginning with Feast of the Entry into Jerusalem ( Hosanna Perunal) and ending with the Feast of Feasts, The Feast of the Holy & Glorious Resurrection Of Our Lord, it is obvious that it is all about Jesus Christ, our Lord God Savior and Redeemer. Of course the Lord does not exist without the holy glorious consubstantial and life giving trinity. And we always have the Mother of God and All the community of our saints to pray for us and intercede on our behalf. But during the Holy week, Monday through Saturday, we focus on the life giving passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christological controversies and disputes and quarrels in the early centuries centered around the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451) have created endless and yet to be settled disputes and divisions in the Church which we call the body of Christ. The Incarnation is difficult for the average person to understand and that is why it is called an inexplicable birth or a mystery of mysteries. But, as orthodox Christians of the Syriac tradition, we believe in the mystery of the Incarnation and it is given to us to understand it through our faith. One of many rewards of such/this faith is that it makes us eligible to praise, bless and worship the Lord Jesus Christ. And we offer thanks to Him who is the Incarnate God.

The Incarnate Lord ( Word, Logos ) is 100% God and at same time 100% man ( Divine and Human.) He was and is the only God-Man who walked the face of this earth, the planet of His creation, taught man, healed man's illnesses, fed the hungry and above all saved the entire human race from the bondage they were under from their disobedience & sins. This Jesus Christ being true God and true man, revealed God, His Being & Nature to us, His creation. Only through God can God be known. But then if He was not true man, then God had not yet been revealed to man. In CHRIST, God and Man was a ( one ) unified personality ( person )The ONE INCARNATION OF CHRIST, the God-man from two natures namely Divine & Human respectively though the union was without confusion and without change. He is JESUS CHRIST, not just Jesus or just Christ. He is The Messiah, The Logos, The very Image of the invisible God, The cause of all things visible and invisible, The head of the Church, The redeemer of the world and we spell God on earth as JESUS CHRIST.

The relationship of the Incarnate God Jesus Christ to the Godhead is incomplete without a note on the interrelationship or the interworking's of THE HOLY TRINITY. God is Triune. God is Love as Jesus Christ has revealed Himself to be by His actions especially the ones we commemorate this week in our Holy Week Services, His voluntary & life giving passion and death on the Cross. Our church, as it believes, express its faith in the HOLY Glorious Consubstantial and Undivided TRINITY of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, ONE in ESSENSE; Father, the ruler and creator, source of all authority and power; Son, the only-begotten of the Father, the savior and redeemer ; the All Holy Spirit, the sanctifier and the inspirer and the perfecter. These truths are proclaimed in the last benediction and the subsequent exaltation of the Holy Mysteries during our Divine Liturgy. And our Divine Liturgy is unique in all the liturgies in this regard. The mystery of the TRINITY again is not that simple to grasp. One God in three Persons in the communion of the LOVE of GOD. It is this LOVE we say is GOD which was there before eternity. THE PREETERNAL AND PREEXISTING GOD. THE SAME, THE ONE and ONLY GOD FOR US BELIEVERS.

If we believe in this LOVE of GOD and then only we are able to understand why this preexisting, self-sufficient and complete in every conceivable aspect God wanted to create man to share HIS LOVE. Because that is the nature of love, the DNA of LOVE! And that is the same reason or rationale why Incarnation was necessary to bring the lost sheep back to the fold; not that God did not have the fire power of the army of angels & archangels, but it is not the way of LOVE. That is why He came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, The Mother of God & The Theotokos, and became man....... etc.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us " Romans 5:8. The Cross of Calvary is the demonstration of the supreme revelation of the overflowing and infinite love of God for us. There no greater proclamation of God's Love than what we see on the Cross; it is death defeating and it is The Sign of VICTORY over sin and everything evil. It is the all-conquering love.

Let us have look at the story of THIS LONELY PERSON in a nutshell:

Born in an unheard of village of peasants; mom, a peasant girl; grew up and worked in another village as a carpenter till 30; then he was an itinerant preacher in the countryside; never travelled as much as even 200 miles from home, never having visited any metropolis; never had a curriculum vitae or a college degree, He was 33 or so when the power of the people & public opinion turned against him. His friends ran away in fear and one of his friends ransomed him for some petty cash. He went through the mockery of a kangaroo court trial; he was mocked, whipped flogged, tortured and skinned alive, starved, dehydrated and bled to extreme exhaustion and finally nailed to the cross in between two robbers as the ultimate insult & punishment.

While dying on the cross in agony, exhaustion and pain, his tormentors gambled for his only world procession, his garment. When dead, he was put in a borrowed cave grave courtesy of a friend. More than 20 centuries have come gone since and today He is the central figure of the human race and all the might of the earthly powers have not affected Him. This HE accomplished through His most humble life, his extreme humility and his forbearance which originated in His GODLY LOVE. Above all the mighty surprise: He did beat all his enemies and all the evils of all times by defying death in HIS GLORIOUS THIRD DAY RESURRECTION.

That is what we are celebrating.

With my prayers TO JESUS CHRIST that HE will hear our prayer and be merciful to us all.

Very Rev.Fr. Dr. Geevarghese Kunnath, MD

See Also:

Good Friday Services - A Commentary on the Orthodox Liturgy

Passion Week Supplement in Malankara World

Sermons for Passion Week

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