Reading myself into Holy Week
On Palm Sunday as I listened to the long gospel reading I tried a new way of listening and being present. I decided that I would allow myself to imagine being all the characters that were part of the reading. In previous readings I melted into the faithful people’s stories. What would happen if I opened myself to all of the characters?

The woman wiping Jesus’ feet distracted me early on…I found myself thinking about trying to clean my hair with the oil in it after wiping Jesus’ feet. I felt childish for moving so quickly in my imagination from the power of that story to my own human element. That quick awareness of the way my mind wandered made it very easy for me to sit at the table and wonder, “Am I the one to betray Jesus?”

Later in the garden, I was initially excited about staying and keeping watch until my own feet became tired from all the standing we had done between the marching with palms and the reading. It was simple then to slip into that place of sleep with the disciples. I felt Jesus words to both Peter and to me, He said to us, “Are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

I resisted the role of Judas…for the stories we have heard about Judas just makes him a loser…yet, how many times have I set someone up to fail when I was angry about being ignored and dismissed…the stories rose up as I resisted Judas betraying Jesus with a kiss.

The crowd yelling out in a spirit caught up by the rush of energy and fear…perhaps a deeper intention…”we want Barabbas, crucify him.” As I child I always put those words on the other even though we the parish crowd would yell them out…on Sunday those words acknowledged stories when I didn’t step forward for immigrant, the disabled, and those in prison…

Even the short stories of Peter, the rock, crumbling felt possible. Peter reminded me of those times when fear of the next or the unknown was bigger than the grace that was willing to carry me through the right now. As I walked the way of the cross and watched the crucifixion I wondered if I would have the courage of the faithful women. I wondered what it would be like to mock Christ and to be the hearer of the mockery. I wondered what the darkness felt like for the people who loved Jesus and stayed at the cross.

At the final words of Christ, I felt some relief as his suffering came to an end. Walking internally these words of the gospel I became quieter as we walked to the point where Jesus would be laid in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb.

With internal reflection I felt embarrassed that I was so capable of being the less favorable characters. Deep out of this place of, my God I could abandon Thee, I heard a smaller voice praying,

“Dear God Heal Me. Let me not be foiled into believing that I have to make these changes by myself, whether it be how I look and act toward others or toward myself. Expand my heart that I might be open to seeing and hearing you in a wider circle of people and circumstances. Guide me this Holy Week in such a way that I remember the grace and hope that are the foundation that awaits me on Easter Sunday.”

I invite you to be open to the grace and hope that awaits all of us during this powerful week of pilgrimage and healing.