Jesus returns to Jerusalem from Bethany, where he spent the night. In fulfillment of prophecy (for example, Malachi 3.1-5), he purifies the Temple. There is mounting tension between Jesus and those who are plotting his death. (Patrick Henry Reardon, The St James Daily Devotional Guide for the Christian Year, Vol 20, Number 2, Spring 2016)This the day when Holy Lent’s trajectory starts a descent into darker territory.
Why would anyone volunteer to allow himself to take the spiritual slide into the darkness, injustice, suffering and betrayal of Holy Week? Who wants to lament if circumstances aren’t particularly lamentable, when life is pretty good? Jesus didn’t want to go there. He said as much during his awful night of fear in the garden of Gethsemane. "Take this cup from me!” he pleaded (Mt 26.39, Mk 14.36, Lk 22.42, Jn 12.27). If Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t want to go there, even once, why should I, every year in my Holy Lent?
Not that my Holy Week is any where near what Jesus had to endure. But here’s the thing. A Holy Lent observed, especially in Holy Week, exposes me to what Jesus went through. I’m not required to crank up my feelings and try and squeeze a tear out or throw dust in the air. That wouldn’t be real. But if I can just be present to the Scriptural account of the events and the Daily Prayer liturgies, if I read the words, pray the prayers, listen and lean in to it, open hearted, then I’ll be available should Jesus choose to light something up he wants me to notice. It’s happened in the past—usually when I’m not expecting it, sometimes embarrassingly and in public. It may not happen this year, or next year, or ever again. That’s up to him.
What bothers me is the possibility of falling in with those to which A Song of Lamentation, the opening canticle in Passiontide Morning Prayer, refers
1 Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? •I don’t want it ever to be nothing to me.
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow,
2 Which was brought upon me, •
which the Lord inflicted
on the day of his fierce anger.