Holy Week and Easter
Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Col 3:1-4 or I Cor 5:6b-8
Jn 20:1-9 or Mk 16:1-7 or Lk 24:13-35
Beginning with the readings on Palm Sunday up until today Easter Sunday I have looked for experiences that would connect my cognitive hearing of the Holy Week readings to my heart. It is such a temptation to float through the week going through the motions and ending up on Easter Sunday standing empty at the tomb. I wanted this year to be different. I wanted the power of the stories I heard in the liturgies to be a transforming agent in the experiences that I lived this past week.
On Tuesday there was a young woman sitting in the corner of the 8th floor of the hospital near the stairwell and she appeared to be crying. I thought about just walking past her, but didn’t. I asked if I could be of service and she shook her head no. In the reading of the passion on Palm Sunday, Simon, the Cyrenian is asked to help Jesus carry the cross. It doesn’t appear that he had a choice. When I saw the woman near the stairwell I had a choice…
On Good Friday was the 9th anniversary of my mom’s death, I found myself during Holy Week retracing that week with mom and my siblings. In one breath it seems like a very long time ago and the next breath it was like yesterday. The mother of Jesus and the other women who followed him stood at the foot of the cross and bore witness to his painful death on a cross.
They watched, yet could not change the reality happening before their eyes. We, too, sat beside my mother’s bed and were unable to stop her physical body from shutting down. Just before she took her last breath she opened her eyes and then breathed out, we could see the relief in her face as she breathed her last breath.
It was the middle of the night, Wednesday and a patient was in the intensive care unit with septic shock. I entered as the physician spoke very directly and compassionately to the patient’s son-in-law about the critical condition of the patient. I sat with him and kept him company.
During that time the patient regained consciousness. When we finally entered the patient’s room a few hours later we were surprised to see and hear the patient speaking. Her son-in-law introduced me to her and asked if she would like a prayer; she said yes. Following the prayer the patient informed me that I had called her son-in-law the wrong name! I smiled and thanked her.
When we went down to the room I expected to meet someone who was unresponsive. I had in my mind what I might say to her son-in-law and to all who were trying to make a difference. Instead I found quite the opposite. A few days after Jesus died, Mary Magdalene thought she was going to freshen up the corpse of Jesus in the tomb, instead she found it empty!
She ran to tell the disciples and they too were unsure what to do, until the angel gave them a heads up. “He is Risen!”
As this Easter week unfolds the Risen One waits for me. May I be open to the unexpected ways Christ will appear.