Today with the church throughout the world, we begin our observance of Holy Week. There is a lot to reflect on in the unfolding of the liturgy and in the lessons of sacred scripture this week, a lot to invite us to notice God’s ever gracious and loving action in human history, a lot to shape and nourish our lives with a more than solely utilitarian and self-centered perspective, to help us live our fullest potential as children of God, and perhaps to draw others who journey with us to the abundance and fullness of God’s life. It is no wonder we are drawn inwardly to the profound and beautiful realities of the spiritual life. God took the initiative a long time ago and placed that longing deep within us. It isn’t something we can explain. But it moves us nonetheless.
Yet while we possess the potential to live a richer spiritual life, we feel this earthly existence holding us back. So close, we must sadly admit sometimes. But the desire is there. So it doesn’t surprise me that people still tell me how difficult it has been for them to focus on Lent this year. All I can say is, it’s almost over. You can’t go back five weeks and do it over. And neither can you begin Lent now while the rest of us move on into Holy Week and Easter. You can, but you’ll end up being five weeks behind on everything. And you’ll have to explain it to everyone everywhere you go. Save yourself the grief. Instead, brace yourself and face the reality of exactly where you are in the present moment. And in this present moment, Holy Week begins.
As we delve into the mystery of God’s saving work this week, we have always been instructed to focus on the dreadful realities of physical suffering, rejection, sin and death. It is Holy Week after all. We remember and give thanks that by his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ brought about our reconciliation with God and with one another. But perhaps, we could plant a thought deep in back of our minds. We know it, yet we often neglect it—that our sins did not cause his death. That would make it look like we can make God do anything. Rather, he did it for love of us. “For God so loved the world,” we might recall. For God does love us deeply beyond all understanding. So our observance of Holy Week is an invitation to embrace the mystery of God’s love, truly a mix of wonder and awe, repentance and gratitude, contrition and elation. And perhaps, just perhaps, we might emerge come Easter with a desire to do as God always does, to live our faith with love like his, deeply and sincerely. Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors, he said. That’s just un-American. Forgive as you have been forgiven. No way. Store up treasure in heaven. But I like my stuff. Do not worry about your life … seek first the God’s Kingdom and his righteousness. Seriously?
Holy Week invites us to embrace mystery, where God shares with us his love and his life, so that we might love as he loves, so that our lives might know abundance and fulfillment beyond measure. Or we can do just as we have always done, and arrive at Easter just as we always have. With a few chocolate eggs, if even that. Your choice.
Rolo B Castillo © 2015