A Reflection by Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH
Pange Lingua, the smell of incense, The Stabat Mater, ” Were you there…?”, crucifixes draped in purple cloth…. just a few of the sights and sounds of a Holy Week long embedded in memory.
When we are familiar with something, it can lose its edge, its ability to disturb us, move us to action, or rest in its solace. The scriptures of Holy Week are not immune from this familiarity. We know the narrative, we know how it ends. At least, we think we do. Familiarity can lead us to dismiss the mystery, to fail to let it engage us, and to escape from “going the distance” with Jesus.
When Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked about his relationship with his wife, Mercedes, he replied, “I know her so well that I have not the slightest idea who she really is.” For Marquez, rather than dismiss, familiarity contained an invitation. An invitation to adventure, intimacy, and mystery.
Marquez’s words challenge us to enter these holy days more porous, more vulnerable, more willing to render our hearts. Do we know Jesus so well that we have not the slightest idea who he really is?
How can we accompany Jesus through Holy Thursday and Good Friday? How can we experience these days as if for the first time? How can we console Jesus for the betrayal, the loneliness, the feeling of abandonment? How can we be with Jesus at the table, walk with him in his suffering, and companion him in death?
As scripture scholars remind us – Jesus’ passion for the Kingdom of God led to the passion of his death. We cannot separate them.
Does my life story reflect the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Caesar? With whom does Jesus stand today? Are we at his side?
What if, as Jesus did, we let the stranger break our heart and enter our prayer? The refugee, the prisoner, the person brought low by poverty, the neighbor who annoys us, the one burdened by life? What would it take for us to wash the feet of the stranger, to accompany the one forsaken, to be Simon of Cyrene?
What if our prayer these Holy Days led us from the beauty of a Holy Week liturgy to the streets where Jesus lives?