With today’s procession into church carrying palm branches singing “Hosanna to the Son of David,” we begin our observance of Holy Week. The church asks us to set this time aside that we might remember and rejoice at the awesome wonder of God’s mercy and love. We call to mind Jesus’ final days with his disciples, drawing them deeper into his friendship, revealing to them the depths of his relationship with the Father, sharing with them the essential truths to sustain them on their own journey. Jesus knew no one could ever be sufficiently prepared, and that his disciples would be forever changed by what they would witness. It would be a rough week for all of them. But he was convinced it was the only way to teach his greatest lesson.
Most of us have walked this journey many times before. We know the principal characters of the story. We are familiar with its twists and turns. We know how it ends. And perhaps our familiarity with the story is the greatest obstacle preventing us from being transformed by it. What does God truly desire for us when we remember these horrific events in the life of his Son? Does God ask that we be moved to tears? Does God desire that we feel guilt and responsibility for Jesus’ suffering and death? Does God ask that we be shaken to our core recalling what he endured at the hands of his enemies? And then what? Do we simply return home, back to our lives, back to our relationships, our drama, our dreams, our prejudices, our fears, our obsessions, and our indifference? Should anything be different? You’re thinking I’m suggesting the right answer is yes. In truth, I don’t know what the right answer is, or that there is a right answer.
Whenever we read or listen to an account of the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection, we get primarily the sacred writer’s take on these events, his perception of the words spoken, and his awareness of their impact on the early Christian community to which he belonged. Since we are not ourselves eyewitnesses to these events, what we see in our mind’s eye can be distorted by what we have seen in paintings and in the movies. And even with truly impressive paintings and movies, we may come away with a better appreciation of the reality they point to, but often not much else. In the end it is no more than a good story, a great story at best, unless we hear the Father’s invitation to a more intimate friendship with him, until we choose to more faithfully imitate the Son, until we open ourselves more fully to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, until our love for God finds a more authentic expression in our love for one another. If God is life and the source of our life, we cannot continue calling it a life without God in it, not God as we imagine God to be, but God as Jesus reveals God to be.
I invite us to immerse ourselves in the passion of our Lord Jesus this week. Sit with him at table when he offers his body and blood as food and drink. Permit him to wash your feet. Go with him to the garden to pray. Witness his journey to Calvary as he carries his cross. Kneel by his mother’s side as his lifeless body is laid in her arms.
God makes known to us through Jesus the depths of his mercy and love. Immerse yourself in his passion. It isn’t just a story. God is opening his heart to us.
Rolo B Castillo © 2014