Holy and Great Monday
We begin our walk with the Lord during the last week of His life on earth. He walks and continues to teach His Apostles and us about our spiritual lives and that which will happen to Him in Jerusalem.
We celebrate a service only found in Holy Week: Bridegroom Matins. It is here that we see Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church. The Icon of the Bridegroom is our Lord in Extreme Humility. In the Gospel of Matthew (9:14-15), we read: “Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” This is now being fulfilled and the days of sadness and fasting are upon us.
We hear in the beautiful Tropar of Matins: “Behold the Bridegroom comes at midnight, * and blessed is the servant whom He will find watching, * but unworthy is he whom He will find in slothfulness. * Beware then O my soul, * and be not overcome by sleep, * lest you be given over to death and shut out from the Kingdom. * But return to soberness and cry aloud: * Holy, Holy, Holy are You, O God * through the God bearer have mercy on us.” And in the Hymn of Light we read: “I see Your bridal chamber adorned, O my Savior, * and I have no wedding garment that I may enter there. * Make the robe of my soul to shine, O Giver of Light, * and save me.”
In the Gospel reading of Matins (Matthew 21:18-43) Jesus curses the fig tree which withers up immediately. Faith is the important theme of the day as the chief priests and elders question His authority. And Jesus continues to teach in parables.
From the Presanctified Liturgy we read: “As the Lord went to His voluntary Passion, * He said to His Apostles on the way: * "Behold we go up to Jerusalem, * and the Son of Man will be betrayed as it is written of Him." * Come then, and let us journey with Him, purified in mind; * let us be crucified with Him and die for His sake to the pleasures of this life, * that we may also live with Him and hear Him say: * "No longer do I ascend to the earthly Jerusalem to suffer, * but I ascend to My Father and your Father, * and to My God and your God; * and I shall raise you up to the Jerusalem on high in the Kingdom of heaven."
In the Gospel for the Presanctified Liturgy Jesus tells us what will happen in the future. He prophesies the end of the world as well as the destruction of Jerusalem which happens in 70 AD. Again, He admonishes us not to lose faith for He will return.