Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou
If we have missed the opportunity to live Great Lent in an acceptable manner and there is only one week left, how can we enter into the joy of the Resurrection? The Lord says to the holy Apostles, ‘Ye are they which have continued patiently with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom’ (Luke 22:28-30). As we celebrate the Passion of our Lord with gratitude and love, with bitter tears, we try to accompany Him during this week every day in His suffering. Then the Lord is well-pleased to render to us the eternal joy of salvation and, because we are faithful and endure patiently in prayerfully remembering His Passion, He is faithful and just to render to us the good things of the world to come. Even at this last hour, in Holy Week, according to the word of the Lord, we have an anchor of hope, a possibility to make up for what we have been lacking during the six weeks that preceded.
Holy Week is a time of renewing our covenant with God by enduring the temptations of our Lord and prayerfully participating in His suffering. During this week, the Lord is suffering so as to manifest His love unto the end by which we have been saved, to show that He is the true God and Saviour of the world. And we, in our turn, by enduring His temptations and hating that which is not conformed to His spirit in us, by bearing with hot tears the regret for our ingratitude to the Lord, we also manifest our love for the Lord unto self-hatred. In this way, we renew our covenant by showing gratitude for the Lord’s love to the end, which we witness during the events we celebrate this week; and by our bitter regret and bitter tears for our ingratitude, we show our perfect love (as perfect as human love can be), love for God unto self-hatred. He loved us unto the end in order to save us and we hate ourselves for the iniquity of our ingratitude and show our love for the salvation He wrought on earth for our sakes through such terrible suffering. There is love unto the end in Christ and love unto self-hatred in us, and these two form a strong alliance between man and God. This is our covenant that we renew in every Liturgy, and more especially in Holy Week.