So we have arrived at Holy Week, the greatest week of the Church’s year. On Sunday we followed Our Lord into Jerusalem, but as I said in my sermon, the real focus of Palm Sunday is the reading of the passion. The story of Jesus’ arrival into Jerusalem, his meal with his disciples, his arrest, trial and eventual crucifixion. It is the story of the loving purposes of God. Jesus plumbs the lowest depths to take us to the height of heaven. On Sunday we celebrate the resurrection, a celebration that proclaims God’s power to heal and to restore. I hope you can join us for our Holy Week services:
During Holy Week I have been reflecting on the role of Judas in the Passion story. I spoke briefly about this in my homily at St Nick’s on Wednesday evening. I would like to share with you the following poem, The Ballad of the Judas Tree, by Dr. Ruth Etchells: former Principal of St. John’s College, University of Durham, as something you might like to consider yourselves.
In hell there grew a Judas Tree where Judas hanged and died,
Because he could not bear to see his Master crucified.
Our Lord descended into hell, and found his Judas there,
For ever hanging on the tree grown from his own despair.
So Jesus cut his Judas down and took him in his arms,
“It was for this I came,” He said, “And not to do you harm.
My Father gave me twelve good men, and all of them I kept,
Though one betrayed and one denied, some fled and others slept.
In three days’ time I must return to make the others glad,
But first I had to come to hell and share the death you had.
My tree will grow in place of yours, its roots lie here as well,
There is no final victory without this soul from hell.”
So when we all condemn him as of every traitor worst,
Remember that of all his men, our Lord forgave him first.
Wishing you all a very joyful and blessed Easter.