We pray with hearts and hands wide open to receive what God is offering.
Jesus was born and lived to give his life for us and to us. It is difficult
to listen to and watch somebody else suffer and we cannot do anything to
stop it. It is even harder when the suffering is done for our sakes.
We pray with Mary’s words that we let it be done, let it all be done. Let
his life and death and resurrection be done for this world and this one person
whom God still loves this much.
The Passion of the Christ, not merely the current movie, but the reality
of Christ’s whole history is a very moving picture. He was moved by love
to live towards every moment of his life. He moved into our human family
to save it from eternal dysfunction. He moved towards his cross by moving
towards every event and person of his every day. He moved others to follow
him by touching their mind and hearts.
His moving picture continues to give us a wake-up call. This earth-shaking
experience can become an historical ho-hum by being displayed in various
art forms and presented so regularly in prayer settings. It is difficult
to be moved again and again. We need time to let it be done, let it be given
to us once more.
In the First Reading from Isaiah we will hear of the call from God to a scribe
to stay faithful to what is heard and seen. This Servant will have to endure
physical hardships, but the call is to endure patiently. These few verses
are a poetic picture of the servanthood of Jesus. It is a prelude to the
Gospel and begins getting us ready. It is not shocking; it is meant to attract
our attention. The main event of the life of God’s Servant is about to be
presented, offered and shared.
My sister wrote me today of the deaths of two close friends of her family.
She reflected how death seems to be a wake-up call for us to live. Apt words
for this beginning of Holy Week’s liturgical contemplation. When something
is consummated it does not mean ended. More literally it means brought together
or presented in its entirety. The Passion of Jesus was every moment of his
life. Death is one more moment of life. It is said that how we live is how
we die. Jesus reveals nothing new about his life in how he died. It is definitely
a greater intensification of his whole life, but if we know his life’s story,
his death is not so shocking. It is rather fitting; it fits that he who lived
by giving should die by giving everything in a summation, a consummation
of his every breath, even to the breath on the cross.
Every scene in today’s Gospel has a thread which holds things all together.
We need time to be there, to let it be done again in ever so slow motion.
His words, gestures, sufferings, all say the same thing. The very same things
he was saying through his gestures and words all his life. By staying faithful
to his identity and mission he provoked the religious and political leaders
to such a point that he, Jesus, got what he deserved. I know this might sound
blasphemous, but if he had pulled back, toned down his accusations and arguments
he would have not been faithful, but he would not have died so tortuously.
He kept stepping up and so at the end he stepped up to the cross.
The Apostles were sleeping while Jesus prayed a final checkup time confirming
his identity and calling. Jesus wakes them up again. His death is meant to
wake us up and clear our minds and hearts from what is intoxicating or numbing
us. His death is meant to get our attention, but it is not his temporal death
alone by which we are saved from eternal sleep. His whole life leading up
to his timely death and his resurrection as part of his life is a sacred
whole or unity. He loved us from the beginning through his death on the Cross,
up through his Resurrection and even to this moment of our living each moment.
We follow him most by living receptively, thankfully, openly, which is the
very same as obediently.
We are invited to believe, receive and be humbled in his giving back our
lives by letting his be taken. Lord, let it be done, let it all be done again
as a great wake-up call. This very moving picture is offered for us and to
us if we but be awake.