April 11, 2023

Journey Through Holy Week: Holy and Great Tuesday


The Bridegroom of the Church and the Parable of the Ten Virgins

In the Bridegroom Service on Holy Tuesday, the figure of the Bridegroom Christ dominates through the Parable of the Ten Virgins, as preserved by the Evangelist Matthew.

It is important to repeat that what the Gospels of these Holy and Great Days describe, concern what Christ said and did and suffered after His Entry into Jerusalem, during the last week of His earthly presence.

Tonight, we will hear in the Gospel of Matins the terrible "woe" of Christ against the hypocritical Pharisees. Christ proclaims that the fleshly-tribal succession ceases in the people of God and now everyone who believes in Christ belongs to the people of God, and not those who simply belong to a certain race and to a certain human tradition, since Christ is the Lord even of David.

It is important that the Holy Tuesday Gospel, which we will hear on the morning of Holy Tuesday, refers to the three last parables that Christ spoke before His Passion: the Ten Virgins, the Talents and the Judgment. He foretells, that is, His Second Coming to the world.

Immediately after these parables, the speeches stop, and the awesome and bright events begin, the "divine drama" unfolds, during which Christ is led as an innocent lamb to the slaughter, speechless.

According to the parable, ten Virgins went with their lamps to the wedding feast. But five of them, the wise ones, took oil with them to burn the lamps, while the other five, the foolish ones, did not take oil with them. The Bridegroom was late in coming, so the five "fools", seeing their lamps going out, went to get oil at the last moment. During their absence, however, the Bridegroom came and the doors were closed and the wise entered the wedding with the Bridegroom, while the fools were left outside.

The Church calls us to alertness, inspiration, cultivation to be ready to receive Christ, who we do not know when He will come to meet us, having the lamps of our virtues, which virtues we must cultivate. The illuminated nous of man is a lamp and the labors of asceticism are the oil. No one enters the Kingdom of Christ without effort.

The words of Christ are addressed to all people, but above all to young people and young hearts. The young man who listens to the word of Christ, offers his youthful years with love to Christ, and does not wait for a "good soul" to come to him in his old age. By offering the young years to Christ, he receives what is incorruptible and eternal with his rebirth according to Christ.

Saint John Chrysostom underlines that the mercy that was lacking in the foolish virgins was mercy, in contrast to the wise ones who were full of works of love.

The Bridegroom of the Church

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

(From his book Intervention in Contemporary Society)

Great Lent is the heart of the ecclesiastical year. After all, the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ inspire the whole period of the year. If Great Lent is the heart of the ecclesiastical year, Great Week is the heart of the heart.

It is called Great Week not because it has more days and more hours than all the other weeks, but because the events which the Church celebrates are great, and it helps the Christian to experience them in his personal life.

It is a week of God's love, but also of man's great ingratitude, it is a week of renewing the human race and experiencing salvation.

The services of the first days of Great Week are called the Bridegroom Services, because Christ is presented as the Bridegroom of the Church and of every believer, who comes to suffer, be crucified and resurrected out of love for the human race.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is well known, where Christ is presented marrying mankind and mankind enters the bridal chamber.

This parable inspired the sacred hymnographers to compose many troparia, such as: 
"Behold, the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He finds watching; and unworthy, again, who He finds idle."

Kathisma of Matins on Holy Tuesday

"Let us love the Bridegroom, O brethren. Let us keep our lamps aflame with virtues and true faith, so that we, like the wise virgins of the Lord, may be ready to enter with Him into the marriage feast. For the Bridegroom, as God, grants unto all an incorruptible crown."

Work of Photis Kontoglou, with the inscription: "Christ with the wise virgins". And elsewhere: "The foolish virgins". With the caption: "The door is now closed, it cannot be opened, retreat to your little houses to rest."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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