We are starting to turn the liturgical corner and move from Lent into Holy Week this Sunday. This will be our final week with Jesus marking the last days he traveled with us here on earth. This year we enter this sacred and holy church season amidst a very different kind of landscape as we continue to navigate our way through a global pandemic. I have heard some of my colleagues say in the past few weeks they feel like Good Friday came early- as a way to indicate the gravity and perilousness of these past few weeks. Many of us have lost friends or even family members to COVID-19 and all of us have been living amidst a significantly different reality with many of us staying at home and some of us working under stressful, if not also dangerous conditions. For everything each of does every day to help “flatten the curve”- thank you; keep it up!
This Sunday we will gather again virtually and be wrapped up in the telling of the Passion narrative, the story of Jesus’ final entrance in Jerusalem followed by the days leading up to the crucifixion. “Passion” comes from the Latin: passionem, translated as suffering, or enduring. As we hear and watch the images we have chosen to symbolize this powerful narrative, we will be reminded how each of us has the potential to celebrate, cheer, deny, betray, grieve and weep as we make our own way to the cross.
It is in Jesus’ ultimate renouncing of all violence and hatred that he offers to us a pattern and practice for our own lives. When asked what it means to follow Christ, I wonder if our answer could be found in our daily lives proclaiming our absolute affinity to a ministry of healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation for ourselves, our community and our precious planet?
May we continue to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, boldly following a path of pure love- to and through the cross. “Coming home” this holy week will necessarily be different- we will do so apart from each other online and in our own homes. And yet and still, it is my prayer we will feel the ties that invite and bind us together perhaps even more strongly than before this mess we’re now in.
As we make our way to the cross we are also trying to absorb the realities of sickness, death, isolation, religious intolerance, racial divisions and political unrest. There are no simple answers right now. I hold fast to the belief that our only spiritual antidote at times like this is to keep the faith, to hold on to our sacred story moving us forward, even to the grave, to lift our voices and then on Easter morning make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. For short of that, as Richard Rohr asks below, “How else would we not die of sadness for what humanity has done to itself and to one another?”
Christ Crucified is all of the hidden, private, tragic pain of history made public and given over to God. Christ Resurrected is all of that private, un-grieved, unnoted suffering received, loved, and transformed by an All-Caring God. How else could we believe in God at all? How else could we have any kind of cosmic hope? How else would we not die of sadness for what humanity has done to itself and to one another? The cross is the banner of what we do to one another and to God. The resurrection is the banner of what God does to us in return. Easter is the announcement of God’s perfect and final victory.
(Franciscan brother, Richard Rohr)
Traveling Mercies dear ones as we enter Holy Week and the path that will be paved with heartache and anger, denial and courage, blame and torture, and then, if we are willing to stay the course, lead us to Easter morning and the promise of new life!
May you never forget that you are loved.