Thinking of Holy Week and the Easter Triduum
This evening, Friday, March 23, 2018, my thoughts grow heavier with the Passion, Suffering, and reliving Jesus’ trek to Calvary as our redemption is close at hand.
As others will be composing literary synopsis’ of this season, so my thoughts will attempt to join them in personal feelings, reflections, and the Churches tradition of presenting the realism of the Paschal Mystery.
My prayers have become more intense with the Passion, as I reflect beginning with the Agony in the Garden through the final words of Jesus; “It is finished.” “And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” (Jn. 19: 30 b)
Go to the garden of Gethsemane and kneel beside Jesus as he lays there, sweating and trembling, the deep fear you can see in his eyes, and try if you can to feel the thoughts of agony and trepidation that he is experiencing. O, we have many fears to encounter in our daily lives; family difficulties, business decisions that overwhelm us, the expectation of a job loss, or so many other trials we may have to face. But, deep pain, the knowledge that your life will be ending, but not before rejection, dehumanizing mockery, and simple disbelief that you are who your are and nobody cares, do not become the mantra for you this night.
While standing among your friends a closest ally comes to you, embraces and gives you a kiss. My friend? Soldiers take you away as a brigand, an enemy of the State, and your companions; where have they all gone? Living in a society where laws of rule should protect us from unsolicited accusations that make us feel as a wild beast, one who at any moment might attack your opponents. What just happened that you are standing there alone, no one to support you, nobody who even says; “I know him, I will stand up for his character.”
You’re put on trial. What defense does the life you’ve lived and shared for the good of the community and all of mankind mean, now? Look into His eyes, a second time. What do you see? Tears, confusion, sorrow not for himself but for each of us who must share a lot, if not all, of the blame for the worst yet to come.
Maybe we’ve all seen movies where prisoners are tied to a post and whips, some with sharp objects made to inflict the most excruciating pain that will test the very strength of the mind as well as the physical body. They are used to weaken him for more to come. You aren’t able to see his eyes here, but close yours and sense the cords striking your back, bared and bleeding more severely with each scourging that doesn’t stop. As each blow is felt across your flesh, now open and bleeding, and O, will it ever stop.
A tree is cut down. not for shade or replanting, but to lift criminals high for all to see, jeer, and spit at an enemy that most don’t even understand the sense of a circus-like atmosphere; in a world where pain and suffering and eventual death brings the sound of cheering and satisfaction of a people gone mad with hatred and revenge. You stand along the Via Dolorosa amidst others as Jesus drags this timber, the tree that was cut down for him. Get a good position so you may now see his eyes the third time. He arrives before you, his eyes affixed not on yours but your heart. Can you now feel the deep penetration from the God of Life, the Son of the Almighty God, as He sees you as you are. How does that make you feel? Are there any tears as the grueling trek of the cross that should be ours is carried by Him?
Sounds from the blows of the hammers, tearing of flesh, once again, the nails going deep in his hands and feet, blood running down his face from the cruel crown of mockery, and the bare flesh on his back tearing even more as his body is thrust against the tree and he is raised for all to see. Can you still feel the sheer pain from the whips upon you as he was scourged?
What thoughts might you feel as the sky grows dark, an ominous sight of storms within our own lives might remind each of us that the only one to quell these storms of unrest and confusion in the human heart is hanging upon a tree, and even from there, he forgives each of us for having a part in placing Him there.
The afternoon goes on, the earth quakes and Jesus dies. What feelings do we now have as our walk down the hill from Calvary should be the path we take to kneel and pray, to thank and praise our God who just completed the final chapter of our Salvation.