Holy Monday

From the Eve of Palm Sunday (strictly speaking the service of Holy Monday) until Holy Tuesday evening the Church celebrates what is known as the ‘Bridegroom services.’ The Lord is referred to as the Bridegroom of the Church, based on the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Behold the Bridegroom! Come out to meet Him.’ (Matthew 25:1-13) This title suggests the intimacy of love; for this reason the Kingdom of God is compared to a bridal feast. Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. These services thus display, through hymns and prayers, the union of the lover with the beloved. The teaching of the Church associates this with the need for ‘vigilance’ or ‘preparedness,’ in other words living by Christ’s commandments with care and readiness, with expectation, for ‘Behold the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night.’

On Holy Monday we commemorate Joseph the Patriarch of the Old Testament (read in Genesis 37-50) as a prototype of Christ, as an exemplary figure of trust in divine providence, abstinence and righteousness. Joseph at one point reassures his brothers ‘fear not… God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive… do not fear, I will provide for you and your little ones… thus he reassured them and comforted them.’ (Gen 50:19-21) We, as young Christians, should be the voice of reassurance, the voice of expectation of God’s comforting presence, and the action of His mercy.

These first days of Holy Week convey this expectation. We as Christians don’t have expectations in the sense of having the right to something, or to put it simply, to get what we want throughout this life, but we have an even greater expectation. We trust. We trust that the Lover of all mankind will never abandon nor turn His Face from us, especially in time of need, but rather transform our every challenge, our every stumble, ‘illumining the garment of our souls’ as the giver of Light and Saviour of humankind.