Holy Week 2018: Carrying within, the dark and light
Palm Sunday: The Passion Narrative, Mark 14:1-15:47.
The human heart carries passion and integrity. It is also a stalwart of violence and hatred. We carry within our lives, especially our hearts, the vitality of faith and the assurance of Christ’s presence to change the world. Our hearts within Holy Week carry the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Faith cannot be contained in the intellect alone. Faith, the surety of conversion and love, rests in the human heart. We cannot love without our heartfelt experiences, our emotions and feelings. We cannot listen to the gospel within Holy Week and rest in its full meaning without feeling in our own bodies the betrayal and the hope of the people within the story.
We carry within our bodies our betrayal of Jesus.
Reading the passion narrative of Mark, we realize that those followers of Jesus who loved him also betrayed him. It is as if our human natures hold in tension such mysteries. We love and we betray. Peter denied Jesus. Judas betrayed him. The other disciples left him alone in the end. Unfortunately, our path to faith holds these two dimensions in tension. We love God and betray God all in one breath.
We betray God when we do not seek the value and dignity of our brothers and sisters, when our pride seems greater than offering concern to other people. When we are faced with people who have less than we do, they seem to be a threat to us because we fear the same loss. Sometimes our fear overreaches our love.
This weekend we witness across the country our young people speaking out from their experiences of gun violence, mental illness and hatred. We listen to this generation whose greatest fear is being shot in school. We listen to the fear within our own bodies that causes us to separate people, the good and the bad, those on one side and those on the other. We listen to people who challenge our rights and struggle to get our attention about real human concern. We listen to how we have betrayed our young people for we carry such enormous emotion within our lives from their fear and death. We listen to understand, to not only our own bodies and fearful hearts but to a new generation of people who are living with such violence. We lift up this new generation into the mystery of the cross of Jesus. We are challenged to feel the pain of the world beginning with our own children.
We carry within our bodies the hope that will set us free.
The reason we enter into Holy Week one more time is that our suffering will also come to new life in faith. I must believe this. I hold on to such a notion for the sake of our brothers and sisters who live in great need and pain and conflict.
Faith is far more than an intellectual pursuit. Faith challenges us to become converted in love that is inclusive, forgiving and merciful. We are called to become what we believe, the living mystery of Jesus no matter how difficult life can become.
We all long for such freedom, both earthly and eternal. The path to the cross opens us up to feel how Jesus sacrificed for our lives. This week we shall sit with our internal pain, our fragile and broken hearts and discover something more than our own lives. Hope must come from within. No other people can offer us such a beautiful and life giving experience. We cannot purchase hope or ask for a cup of hope from a neighbor. We are called this week to sit with Christ Jesus and listen attentively to his death and his resurrection to find a deep and vital hope within our own bodies for the welfare of our world.
Questions to consider:
How do you experience this Passion Narrative within your own life?
After reading this gospel, what rises up within your heart? What phrase captures your imagination?
How does your heart respond to such a story? What is Jesus asking of you as we enter into Holy Week?
To what does your heart cling in this gospel or within this Holy Week?
How do you feel betrayal and hope within your heart and life?