Greetings to all in the Love of Jesus Christ:
Holy Week is here – and it couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. For people with just a passing familiarity with Christianity, I suppose, that could be confusing. For some people Holy Week is a Palm Sunday parade at the beginning and an Easter celebration at the end. But like so many things in life – baseball seasons, marriage, life itself — the beginning and end may get the most attention, but it’s what’s in the middle that is the real substance of the story.
To say it bluntly: Holy Week didn’t go the way the disciples expected it to. It didn’t go the way they WANTED it to. They were sorely disappointed. Their plans were dashed. Their hopes and dreams crushed in an instant. At the end of the week, the locked themselves in their own homes, afraid to go out, afraid of the horrible world they lived in. Holy Week is about pain and suffering, about disappointment and disillusionment, about things not going the way we want.
Throughout my life, I’ve had moments of feeling sorry for myself. I’ve had moments of thinking that nobody liked me. I’ve had moments of feeling like a victim, like life wasn’t being fair to me. I obviously have some sense of entitlement that life SHOULD be fair, that everyone SHOULD like me, that life SHOULD give me what I want – or at least the basics.
When I’m stuck feeling sorry for myself, there’s really only one thing that has helped me: reading the story of Holy Week. Reading what’s known as the “Passion Story.” Palm Sunday is also known as Passion Sunday, because after the parade, after the “triumphal entry into Jerusalem,” the Passion Story begins. I read about Jesus, this person I claim to follow. I read about his friends rejecting him. I read about him being falsely accused, thrown in prison for bogus reasons, and physically tortured. I read about him being publicly humiliated by the worst form of capital punishment – being lifted up on a cross and left to die. And all the while, he continues to love people with all his heart, soul, and strength. Hanging on the cross, Jesus offers one last prayer: “Father, forgive them – they do not realize what they are doing. “
And I ask: “Why did I ever think I was entitled to a smooth and easy life?” Holy Week is coming at an appropriate time, because it reminds me that the Christian story is not about having an easy life. It’s not about a sports championships or bull markets or having things go my way. Christianity is about receiving and embodying God’s love no matter what our circumstances. May we who claim to be disciples of Christ do our best to face suffering with the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dios les bendiga!
Regional Minister and President, Christian Church in Arizona