A Message for Holy Week and Easter from the Most Rev John McDowell, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and the Most Rev Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.
In the Christian calendar, Holy Week has sometimes been referred to as ‘The Week of Weeks.’ All of the Gospel writers devote about half the content of their books to recounting in diverse ways what happened to Jesus and his friends in that dramatic week, and in drawing out the meaning of those events:
Centuries of spiritual reflection and theological debate have led to acceptance that the death and resurrection of Jesus was somehow an atonement that brought about a reconciliation. This year our commemoration of the ‘Week of Weeks’ is all the more significant and poignant given that we mark twenty-five years since an historic agreement towards lasting peace and a resetting of relationships within and between these islands. That the Agreement was reached on a Good Friday gives it a special resonance.
Have we, in the Christian community in Ireland, allowed ourselves to forget the greatness of this achievement, the sacrifices and risk-taking that made it happen, the light it shone into the darkest of days and the promise and hope it offered?
Have we been open to establishing the full truth of our past, so as to enable justice and facilitate forgiveness and healing?
Might it be time for those of us who call ourselves His disciples, signed at baptism with the sign of his Cross, and who recognise, however dimly, the cost of our reconciliation, be prepared to make our own sacrifices and atonement for our carelessness with the precious opportunity for lasting peace that has been given to us?