We are right now in the midst of Holy Week, which for me, is the most important week in the entire Christian calendar, spiritually speaking. In one week’s time, we relive the experience of celebrating Jesus’ victorious entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, followed by the drama of his arrest, trial and crucifixion that climaxes on Good Friday, and then culminates with the news of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. For me, even the Christmas season cannot surpass Holy Week in the richness of its metaphysical detail and spiritual significance.
Palms, Thorns and Lilies
A Course In Miracles describes Palm Sunday as a symbol for the “celebration of victory” and also for the “acceptance of the truth.” In Jesus’ time, palm leaves were used as a symbol of honor and respect. As Jesus humbly entered into Jerusalem on a young donkey, his path was strewn and covered with palm leaves laid out before him by those who had come to see him. He had only recently raised Lazarus from the dead, and his profile and popularity were at a peak. However, before the week was over, the palms of victory would become the thorns of sin, the “dark signs of crucifxion.” Yet, the crucifixion was not the end. If it were, I would not be writing this, and you would not be reading it. As ACIM reminds us, “Easter is the sign of peace, not pain.” Therefore, there is more to the story.
“Your resurrection is your reawakening. I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it.” – ACIM
Seen correctly, Jesus’ resurrection, his overcoming of death, completely obliterates any sense of pain or guilt we might be tempted to feel because of the injustice of his crucifixion. If we were only to see Jesus as crucified for his “crimes,” the crucifixion would have no meaning for us today, some 2,000 years later. A “slain Christ” has no value whatsoever. But, a “risen Christ” symbolizes the potential for our own rebirth, our own awakening in consciousness to the memory of who we are as the innocent and forgiven children of God.
Do Not Grieve For Christ
We should not spend any time during Holy Week grieving or brooding over the events that culminated in Jesus’ crucifixion, for they were merely the necessary steps under the laws of creation that he had to move through in order to set the stage for the resurrection. By the time we reach Easter, the thorns of sin have yielded to lilies of innocence, the sign that the “Son of God” is innocent, he has been forgiven.
More importantly, he has forgiven himself, and learned how to see himself as “healed and whole.” Christ’s victory is our victory. His resurrection is the symbol of our own resurrection. Jesus is our very own model for rebirth, our own awakening in consciousness to the memory of our own innocence in God. From palms to thorns to lilies, victory to crucifixion to resurrection, all within the same holy week. The spiritual life doesn’t get much richer than this.
Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit
In Luke 23:46, as Jesus hangs on the cross, he speaks the last of his seven statements made from the cross. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” The scripture indicates that just as Jesus completed this statement, he “breathed his last.” Yet, his declaration was no mere statement of resignation in the face of the inevitable consequences of his circumstance. It was not a declaration of defeat, even in the least. It was an affirmation of everything that Jesus had taught during the previous three years of his ministry.
One of Jesus’ main teachings encouraged us to enter into our own intimate relationship with God. Jesus referred to God as Father, which implies a close, intimate relationship. “I and the Father are one. If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” It does not get more intimate than familial relationship. There is no space between those who are connected together as family in oneness and unity.
As a model for how we are to relate to God, Jesus encourages us to accept the truth that we too are one with God, one with the Father. This is true both in life, and in death. So, when Jesus declares: “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” he is affirming that his complete trust is in God, the Father, at the moment of his death, but also, as it had been in life.
We Are Always In God’s Hands
We are, and have always been, in God’s hands. This is equally true in times when we may not have believed in God, or have been unaware of our connection with God. It is a big part of God’s Grace that we are held whether we know it or not, whether we actively deny it or not. So, this Easter make a personal declaration to yourself, commit your life into God’s hands. It is already there anyway. By affirming and declaring it for ourselves, by accepting what is already the truth of our being, then we can claim the victory symbolized by Palm Sunday for ourselves.
I invite you to join us tomorrow night, as the UCOH community continues our Holy Week celebrations with a special Good Friday service that will metaphysically illuminate the final seven statements Jesus spoke from the cross during the crucifixion.