Holy Week 2013

Tuesday in Holy Week

In odd moments it was possible to believe that everything was back to normal. There always were tense moments in Jerusalem and, if anything, the questions about Caesar and life after death were just a little more hostile than usual; but the crowds were bigger and friendlier than ever; they liked this plucky Galilean with his wry sense of humour; all the best storytellers and comedians came from 'Up North'. They liked to see the authorities getting a bit of a going-over but nothing that was said was outside the usual ambit of Aramaic rhetorical knock-about. And, anyway, it was coming up to Passover and the authorities would not want to spoil the fun, particularly with all those wealthy Greek-speakers in town; the authorities relied on these few days to keep the Temple books balanced. But you never quite knew and Jesus would be better off keeping a low profile.

But there was, perhaps, a whiff of real danger in the air, the question of whether Jesus was a dangerous man to be with. It was all right in the day-time in the strengthening Spring sun but after dark every sound seemed to be magnified and distorted; they twitched at the unexpected noise. Somebody, unaccountably, dropped a bowl of corn; teeth knocked against a cup; they sat closer together than was comfortable. And although he was animated when he was out with the crowds, once he got home to Bethany, Jesus seemed preoccupied. He had to make an effort to be his old self, and it never was quite right, even then.

And as we make our own effort to empathise, is Jesus a dangerous man to be with? We might not be twitching and dropping bowls but what will we dare to say to dinner guests during Holy Week? What will we say to people we meet in the street when they ask us about processing with palms or processing in witness on Good Friday. Will we confine ourselves to slight references to comfortable teaching, or will we say what these few days mean to us? Will we get past the hot cross buns and the Easter eggs to the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the ignominy and the glory, or will we be content to keep our secret?