Melto D’ Moronoyo: Passion Week is the wedding feast of the year

Christ the Bridegroom icon. Image: Supplied

By Joseph Wehbe

We have finally arrived at that time of the year again, Passion Week. This week is typically known to be very sorrowful and solemn as we, the faithful, prepare to meditate on the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus through his being betrayed and denied by his closest friends, students, and apostles. Yet Passion Week does not start off in such a sombre manner.

Pre-Passion Week begins with a double celebration! The raising of Lazarus from the dead, on Lazarus Saturday, and the entry of Jesus, as King of the Jews, into Jerusalem on Hosanna Sunday.

In last weeks Melto DMoronoyo I mentioned that the Season of Great Lent also started with a celebration; the wedding at Cana in Galilee. It was a joyous occasion that almost ended in a disaster.

Fast-forwarding to the 40th day of Lent this season ends in the wilderness, where Jesus is tempted by the devil on Friday of the Temptation of Jesus. So, dare I say it was a near disaster, right?

Yet Passion week begins on the Hosanna Sunday evening with the entrance into a wedding banquet, known as the rite of the arrival to the harbour.

Why so many weddings you may ask? In the early Jewish tradition when a couple were betrothed to be married, they legally became one, yet they had to wait a year until they were allowed to celebrate and consummate their marriage.

In this year the husband, under religious grounds, could decide to divorce his wife. Sound familiar?

For the Feast of St Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus (19 March), we hear in the Gospel of Matthew followed this custom: Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife (Matt 1:19;24).

Jesus in imitation of his earthly father who unconditionally loved Mary his bride, unconditionally loves his bride, the church, by overcoming temptation and willingly die for her. How awesome is this love!

The bridegroom, after leaving the wilderness, raises his friend from the dead then processes through Jerusalem in anticipation to consummate his marriage with his bride. This is why we should be ready to welcome him as he comes to enter the wedding feast.
Yet it seems that most of us will probably be arriving late to the reception. That is no surprise. The bridegroom already knows this and does not give up on us here.

He gives us an open invitation even if something is holding us back. Jesus only desires to know that we have filled our hearts with an openness to experience His love and have cleaned the lamp of our hearts from the dust of the worldly pleasures we are attached to.

He wants to know if we are ready to enter the wedding banquet, located on the harbour of salvation. Are we ready to be welcomed by him in the reception of his love?

If we are, we will experience the most honourable hospitality and hear the greatest speech ever written by a groom, just before the best meal is served with the best wine on the Thursday of the Mysteries.

We will then witness the most memorable bridal waltz on Great Friday. And we are also invited to prepare ourselves on Saturday of the Light, also known as the Rite of

Forgiveness, for the most joyous welcome back on Easter Sunday.

If we find ourselves running to the dealer to fill our lamps because we are not ready, let us not wait any longer! For the bride and the groom are waiting for their guest of honour to arrive.

They are waiting for you reading this now. You do not want to miss the wedding of the Year! Oh, and dont forget to congratulate the grooms Mother Mary, on Easter Monday.

Joseph Wehbe is a lay Chaplain at Catholic Care Western Sydney and Blue Mountains, Volunteer Assistant Chaplain at Westmead Hospital and is currently undertaking a Graduate Certificate in Missionary Leadership in 2024 at the Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership. He is also Choir Leader and assists with adult faith formation at St Raymonds Maronite Parish in Sydney.

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