By JOHN SAKALA
Last week all Christians across the globe experienced the exhilarating feeling of the Palm Sunday and for sure there is no national event that profoundly affects the lives of Christians on the planet as does the holy week.
The holy week is set aside to reminisce the death of their master Jesus Christ.
This year though, things were a little different because of coronavirus which has left many dead. Churches like Jehovah’s Witnesses observed the Memorial through Zoom online application while other observed it under strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.
This day popularly known as Passover (Paska in Hebrew) or the Lord’s Evening Meal is the day known in Christian circles as the only event or holiday which Jesus directly commanded his followers to commemorate annually in his remembrance.
Jesus Christ instituted this observance on the night of the Jewish Passover in 33 C.E. The Passover was a celebration held once a year, on the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan.
To calculate that date, the Jews evidently waited for the spring equinox. This is the day when there are approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
The first observable new moon nearest to the spring equinox marked the beginning of Nisan. Passover came 14 days later, after sunset. The Passover became the big event in the lives of the Christians because His death was purely atonement for the sins of all His followers.
Since then between late March and early April on which this date falls, Christians dedicate their lives in remembering the trauma and pain their master went though before He gave His life for them.
All Christians around this period make special effort to improve their behavior and to go for church meetings and over night.
And the days before and after Nisan 14 or Good Friday are full of spiritual activities. Even the days after Good Friday are equated holy, hence making this week important or it being called Holy Week.
Holy Week is the last week of Lent before Easter, beginning on
Palm Sunday and ending on Holy Saturday yet it still embraces Monday as Easter. Good Friday is followed by Holy Saturday and Easter Monday.
On the sixth Sunday of Lent Jesus’ followers commemorate His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Worship services include blessing of the palms and a procession.
To commemorate the entrance of the messiah into Jerusalem, to accomplish his paschal mystery, it is customary to have before Mass a blessing of palm leaves (or other branches, for example olive branches).
The blessing ceremony, preferably held outside the church includes the reading of a Gospel account of how Jesus rode into Jerusalem humbly on a donkey, reminiscent of a Davidic victory procession, and how people placed palms on the ground in front of him.
This is followed by a procession or solemn entrance into the church, with the participants holding the blessed branches in their hands.
The Mass itself includes a reading of the Passion, the narrative of Jesus’ capture, sufferings and death, as recounted in one of the Synoptic Gospels. The Gospels of these days recount events not all of which occurred on the corresponding days between Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his Last Supper.
Good Friday is the Friday in Holy Week, and is traditionally a time of fasting and penance, commemorating the anniversary of Christ’s death. It commemorates not just a historical event, but the sacrificial death of Christ, which with the resurrection, comprises the heart of the Christian faith.
The evening of Good Friday begins the second day of the Paska. This is when Christians approach a wooden cross and venerate it, often by kneeling before it, or kissing part of it. In addition to these traditions, Holy Communion with the reserved host is practiced.
In other churches they call it the memorial service and only a few called the anointed ones or the 144,000 partake of the emblems. The observance become the solemn occasion which takes place at full moon.
This is the final day of Holy Week and there are few specific customs associated with Holy Saturday, except that it is the final night before the Feast of the Resurrection, which begins at the Great Easter Vigil.
Easter is the most important annual religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day after his death. Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday.
Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament,” states The Encyclopedia Britannica. While this holiday is supposed to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection, the customs associated with the Easter season are not Christian.
Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance. Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. What makes this long weakened unique is that it unites family, reminding them of the value of the death of their master. While Jesus died with pain, dishonour and much suffering His death liberated humans from the bondage of sin.