When I was a kid I could not understand the derivation of the term “downtown”. There was no appreciable change in elevation in going from my neighborhood to what was then the commercial center of the city. But I find that those sorts of districts are almost universally known, regardless of elevation, as downtown. It a social or linguistic convention.
The Gospels record Jesus saying “let us going up to Jerusalem.” It was not until I visited Jerusalem that I realized the literal nature of that phrase. It was not a social convention it was a description of the trip to Jerusalem. Going to Jerusalem was literally ascending to the city. I imagine on foot it was quite a slog, and was very tiring.
For us in the season of Lent we too are going to Jerusalem – for the remembrance of Jesus final week in that city. Recalling the triumphal entry on what we now call Palm Sunday; his meal in the upper room, his time in the Garden of Gethsemane , his arrest, trial, condemnation and execution.
For us then, as well, Jerusalem is work.
The work if recalling the toll that human free will can exact on the innocent.
The task of remembering of horrific events and poignant moments.
It requires we take the time to remember and process facts, thoughts, intents and feelings.
But to try to reach a meaningful Easter without going up to Jerusalem thru Holy Week is futile. Without Holy Week Easter is more of a fable than a lived reality. Holy Weeks gives us the sense of the cost of that Easter, and every resurrection we experience. As Bishop Desmond Hunt remarked years ago in Toronto “Everyone wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die.” There is a personal cost in getting new and abundant life. The old life has to die. For us to experience a resurrection something in our life must die, in order to be raised up in new life.
So let us “go up to Jerusalem” and deeply recall this eventful week that led and leads to Easter and new life. So that when we rejoice at the Easter miracle we understand it more deeply, clearly, personally.