Palm Sunday Evening
The Service of the Bridegroom
Introduction to Holy Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
The first part of Holy Week presents us with an array of themes based chiefly on the last day's of Jesus' earthly life. "The story of the Passion, as told and recorded by the Evangelists, is preceded by a series of incidents located in Jerusalem and a collection of parables, sayings and discourses centered on Jesus' divine sonship, the Kingdom of God, the Parousia, and Jesus' castigation of the hypocrisy and dark motives of the religious leaders."
The Orthros Services of Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is called the Service of the Bridegroom, and gets its name from the central figure in the well-known parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25.1-13). "The title Bridegroom suggests the intimacy of love. It is not without significance that the Kingdom of God is compared to a bridal feast and a bridal chamber. The Christ of the Passion is the Divine Bridegroom of the Church. The imagery connotes the final union of the Lover and the beloved. The title Bridegroom also suggest the Parousia.
Each day of Holy Week has its own particular theme. The theme of Monday (celebrated in anticipation on Palm Sunday evening) is that of the barren fig tree (Matthew 21: 18-20) which yields no fruit and is condemned. On Tuesday (celebrated Monday evening) the theme is on the vigilance of the wise virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13) who, unlike their foolish sisters, were ready when the Lord came to them. On Wednesday (celebrated Tuesday evening) the focus is on the sinful woman (Matthew 26: 6-13) who repents. Great emphasis is made in the liturgical services to compare the woman, a sinful harlot who is saved, to Judas, a chosen apostle who is lost. The one gives her wealth to Christ and kisses his feet; the other betrays Christ for money with a kiss.
The Service of the Bridegroom
Holy Monday (Celebrated on Palm Sunday Evening)
Genesis chapters 37-50
Unseen judge, how is it You have been seen in the flesh, and come to be slain by lawless men? By Your Passion You have nullified the judgement against us. And so, as with one voice, we praise the greatness and the glory of Your lordship, O Word of God.
Likening the fig tree to the assembly of the Hebrews, bereft of spiritual fruits, Christ withered it with a curse. May we escape such a fate.
On Holy Monday the Church commemorates Joseph the Patriarch, the beloved son of Jacob. A major figure in the Old Testament, Joseph’s story is told in the final section of the Book of Genesis. (chapters 37-50). Because of his exceptional qualities and remarkable life, our patristic and liturgical tradition portrays Joseph as a prototype, or image of Christ. The story of Joseph illustrates the mystery of God’s providence, promise and redemption.
The Church also commemorates on Holy Monday, the event of the cursing of The Fig Tree (Matthew 21.18-20). “The fig tree is symbolic of Israel become barren by her failure to recognize and receive Christ and His teachings. The cursing of the fig tree is a parable in action, a symbolic gesture. Its meaning should not be lost on any one in any generation. Christ’s judgement on the faithless, unbelieving, unrepentant and unloving will be certain and decisive on the Last Day. This episode makes it clear that nominal Christianity is not only inadequate, it is also despicable and unworthy of God’s kingdom. Genuine Christian faith is dynamic and fruitful. It permeates one’s whole being and causes a change. Living, true and unadulterated faith makes the Christian conscious of the fact that he is already a citizen of heaven. Therefore, his way of thinking, feeling, acting and being must reflect this reality. Those who belong to Christ ought to live and walk in the Spirit; and the Spirit will bear fruit in them: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5.22-25).
Rev. Father Peter J. Orfanakos, Parish Priest
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