Holy Week 2023

Art worl of a large man leaning back on a fence wearing the item sof the crucifixion of Christ.

This week is different for those who share my community of faith. This is a dramatic week dominated by the colours of blood red, regal purple and dazzling white. This is the week of donkey riding, foot-washing service, breaking bread and drinking wine with the discovery of an empty tomb as the peak moment of belief and solidarity.

This is the commemoration of a moment in history that has defined values, fired the imagination and plunged us into the joys and hope, the grief and anguish of human life.

These are days of storytelling, dramatic recreations of passion, suffering and life, and music that finds the crack in everything; that’s “ how the light gets in”

Today our religious observance and language will be meaningless if we refuse to confront the powers of empire .

Our cries of “Hosanna” must echo the cries for freedom and liberation of those detained because they seek refuge and asylum in our land.

This week will not be Holy unless we refuse to crucify the innocent.

This week will not be Holy unless we break bread and drink wine with the poor and abandoned of our community.

This week will not be Holy unless we walk the passion of the earth.

This week will be Holy if we commit to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with all that is sacred.

The image I have selected for Holy Week is the Laughing Christ no.10 by Noel Counihan 1972

In his series of the Laughing Christ Counihan makes a strong statement expressing what he saw as institutionalised religion’s support of the Vietnam war. Counihan’s Christ laughs in derision at the charade of Vietnam and the Church’s participation in supporting the military intervention.

Counihan’s Christ is an Australian. He sits upon the cross, arms folded across his body like a wharfie at a union meeting. He wears his crown of thorns indifferently, even jauntily. The bulky figure exudes apathy and indifference, the mouth wide with cynicism and condemnation.

Today this Christ will grimace at a Church that has become a byword for shame and disgrace. This Christ will grimace at a clerical culture that has valued power over service, status over transparency and wealth over stewardship.

May this distorted image of the sacred shake us from religious apathy and indifference to live this Easter renewed with a re-imagined faith with the vision of the women who first proclaimed the Resurrection.

(Notes adapted from a text by Rosemary Crumlin RSM)

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