Spending a week with Jesus at Calvary is really not very difficult. It is only a matter of focus. It is made easier by our having grown in love with Jesus over the past four months. We know we are loved sinners. We have experienced his call to join him in his mission. We have prayed with growing desire to understand his life and have felt the power of his showing us who he is, in great detail. Now we come to experience how completely human he was.
We want to be touched by the meaning of his death for us. This is not a week of theological reflection. This is a time to focus on the reality of death. Our culture rarely faces the reality of death. We distance ourselves from its experience. For all of the death and violence around us, few of us have witnessed anyone’s death or touched a dead body to experience the coldness of death’s lifelessness. People rarely die at home, and funeral homes take the body of a loved one fairly quickly and embalm it, put makeup on its face and hands, dress it up, and lay it out, like the person is only sleeping.
This makes it more difficult for us to imagine looking up at Jesus hanging in this terribly cruel and unbelievably painful form of execution. It makes it doubly difficult to imagine his lifeless body — the sign of the reality of his death. But as we focus each morning on our desire to be with him in his death, the graces we have received up to now will help us desire to follow him all the way to the end of his life.
As we focus on each area of our lives touched by the death of Jesus, as outlined in the guide, we can end each day with some words of gratitude. Perhaps I will want to express my feelings out loud or in writing. Each night, the expression of gratitude and intimacy grows. Perhaps I have a cross in my home, or even in my bedroom, which I can make a point of looking at or touching reverently. I might be moved to begin and end each day by tracing a cross on my forehead or over my heart as I wake up and before I sleep. This can help us consciously focus at the beginning and end of each day. With such a focus each morning and evening this week, leading to our walking through each day with a heightened awareness of the power Jesus’ dying has for my faith, hope, and love today, I will never be able to look at a cross again without being powerfully reminded of the love that that sign means for me.
Use the other resources offered this week, perhaps especially “The Stations of the Cross” Web page. Let “For the Journey” and the “In These or Similar Words . . .” deepen the experience further.