For western Christians around the globe, this is Holy Week. It is the highest, most holy time of the year, spanning from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. We move through the week, reenacting the significant moments in the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, through the Last Supper to the Crucifixion, and then finally culminating in the Resurrection on Easter Day.
(Most clergy take the Monday after Easter off!)
What makes it “holy?” What does the word mean? The quick answer is the least helpful: that which is set aside for divine use is termed “holy.” However, if the divine truly upholds all things in existence, then all things are holy, and the term loses its meaning for lack of contrast. When we use the synonym, “sacred,” and set it over against Mircea Eliade’s “profane,” then that which is holy is that which is known to be especially revealing of the numinous, the divine. That which is holy is where or about what the human capacity to know the transcendent becomes engaged. We recognize the holy because we are capable of knowing the holy. We have a hand in making things holy, not first by the will, but by the spirit recognizing the True, and then the will engaging our action to honor it.
Holy Week is a time set aside to engage that part of us that is capable of knowing the holy in terms of those most holy acts of God on our behalf that we Christians recognize in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether or not you also recognize God in Jesus, I invite you to take this time to open your own spirit to the holy as you know it along with all your (western) Christian sisters and brothers.