25 March | Monday

Posted by occwebsite
25th Mar 2024

Advent can be described as an ascent to light.

Holy Week, by contrast, moves us in the opposite direction – a descent into darkness. Even though we, by faith and hindsight, might see past the darkness of Good Friday to the bright dawn of Easter morn, we are invited to enter imaginatively into this time, suspending our foreknowledge of the Resurrection so that we, like Mary at the foot of the cross, may stand in solidarity with all those who know of no such hope, and for reasons that may surprise us.

The story that we live in, the Christ story, is not a story about good sense. It is a mystery to be pondered, not a problem to be solved, or a calamity to be avoided. Our orientation is to be that of prayerful, patient attention.

During Holy Week, the tempo of our attention slows to a walking pace as we, with Jesus, turn our face towards Jerusalem, that puzzling city where political sense and practicality is celebrated and love is religiously opposed. We enter into the passion of Jesus who, after three years of active ministry throughout Galilee, suddenly and surprisingly turns passive (which is the archaic meaning of ‘passion’). He is no longer commanding seas, no longer healing limbs, no longer challenging powers. Instead, he becomes increasingly mute and passive as he allows himself to be humiliated and led where no one would ever wish to go.

So what then should our attitude and posture be as we enter reflectively into this week? John’s Gospel gives us a hint in its reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus with these simple words: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother” (19:25).

Also standing nearby was the beloved disciple. His and Mary’s shared helpless suffering creates a new kinship – a new family. There is a profound mystery here that, while I cannot explain it fully, I suspect has something to do with the inbreaking of the “kin-dom” of God which is the strange promise of a crucified Messiah.

In the face of hopelessness and loss, let love overcome our grief. With Mary and the beloved disciple stand near the cross. Ponder these things in our own hearts and bear with patience the sorrows that the fruit of our compassion and love will transform into communion and joy.