Holy Tuesday. Never heard of it? Well, today, you are living one. It is the Tuesday of Holy Week, of course, but does that make today holy?
Such a strange word, holy. We all use it, but I wonder if we really know what it means. Frankly, I took an entire semester-long course in graduate school in which we studied only that word in Hebrew and Greek, and I’m still not sure I know what it means. I can tell you its etymology and quote a hundred verses in which it is used in context. Still, the more I learned, the less I understood.
One of my wisest and holiest seminary professors began every class by saying, “Anything you say about God is a heresy.” He then would lecture for an hour, all of it against the awareness that his words were inadequate. Theologian Karl Barth taught us that “God is wholly other.” Kierkegaard wrote that God is “holy and wholly other.” Both were trying to say that God is beyond our ordinary words and, perhaps, our mortal thoughts.
Holy is a term used to describe that one who is “other” and to describe all that belongs to God. The word “saint,” for example, literally means “one who belongs to God” or “holy one.” It is more than possession, however. The word “holy” implies that something has taken on a bit of the “otherness” of God.
United Church of Christ clergyperson Rev. Timothy Ensworth says it this way:
We believe in a God who is not what we are. God is eternal … we are not. We are born and we die. There is time and history before you existed, and, almost certainly, there will be a time and lots of history after we cease to be. God is spirit … we are not. We are dust! We are made of “stuff,” the stuff of the earth which God created.
That is not all. We belong to God, and, therefore, there is something of God about us. Most of the time, that spark of the divine is likely faint, but we are more than we appear to be.
Tuesday is perhaps the most unremarkable day of the week. Today, however, is Holy Tuesday because it belongs to Holy Week. Perhaps we would do well to ponder on this truth: If God can make Tuesday holy, what might be done with us?
Rev. Michael Piazza