For what it commemorates is awful. There’s betrayal: a man who sold his mentor to enemies, colluding with ruthless people against someone who had only ever shown him love. Or corruption: people willing to ignore justice and pay bribes, or seek out liars who can turn a trial into a mockery. Or desertion: trusted friends pathetically withdrawing support, even to the extent of denying that there was ever a relationship. In Holy Week we see the mess of human failings writ large; the havoc caused by people with entrenched positions who can’t back off from their view of things, and end up killing.
For it is too much like reality, as those who have lived through betrayal, or corruption, or been abandoned will know. What Christ went through on his way to the Cross speaks to the ugliness of all human shady deals and acts of pretence. It’s much more palatable to move to the celebrations of Easter bunnies and chocolate eggs.
And yet the realism of Holy Week is much more hopeful than the escapism we often prefer. For it allows us to see that God knows the evils endemic to our human lives and is with us in them. At the Last Supper Christ knows his body will be broken and his blood shed, yet counters the evil with love. And it’s in his very death that we find hope, and know that betrayal and corruption, hatred and injustice will never have the last word.