Monday, April 10, 2017
Celebrating Holy Week
Holy Week, among other things, is about resistance – the refusal to accept, be part of, grasp and take in whatever is set forth as necessary, irrefutable and absorbing.
Jesus was a resistor.
Hearing the crowd’s Hosanna, Jesus resisted the temptation to believe that the adulation of the crowd would last. Jesus resisted running away from suffering – yet in the garden, as he prayed, Jesus resisted suffering and the very comfort of knowing he was loved by his Father. Jesus resisted the night with its betrayal, the night of death and the bleakness of the tomb. He resisted bitterness as his disciples scattered and Peter denied any knowledge of Jesus. Jesus resisted the power of Rome and hostile religious authority that threatened to crush him.
Others involved in the event of these days marshaled resistance as well. Judas resisted the new, unexpected way that Jesus offered people salvation. He wanted Jesus to savior his way. Peter resisted Jesus who knelt to wash Peter’s feet. Later, Peter resisted his conscience and the loyalty Jesus inspired in him. The women in their vigil at the cross and at the tomb resisted the threat of the Roman military and the jibes of the crowd.
Resistance either comes from faith or it does not. When it does not come from faith, as we see in this week’s drama, it disappears into cowardice, shrinks from the inside and leaves failure in its trail. Such resistance obscures the likeness of God in the resistor and offers no spark to ignite the world.
But resistance that comes from faith leads to new life, a renewed confidence in God and Easter itself. Jesus’ cry on the cross shattered the last human resistance – death – forever. On Easter, the resistance of the stone, the inability of Jesus’ disciples to recognize him, and most of all, the resistance called fear gave way to lasting, indescribable joy.
In our world, this Holy Week and Easter, we find all these same resistances played out. Some US citizens resisting self-centeredness, yet others resisting truth. Worldwide, medical workers resist epidemics and at the same time regimes resist being overthrown. Signs of resistance are everywhere. It’s often hard to sort out their meaning. That’s why we need Easter, for when Christ Easters in us and in our world, we recognize the good to embrace and the evil to reject. Boundaries become permeable, resistance gives way to harmony, we become participants in a community working for the common good.
As Holy Week unfolds, I hope we can resist being bystanders only in an ancient drama, bystanders, who in their lack of concern for others, “leave no fingerprints on what their hands have touched.” (Charles Wright)
This week, do not resist Christ. Touch Him in his Passion, Death and Resurrection. Touch one another with the encouragement of faith. Touch the empty tomb. Touch the spring flowers that proclaim He is risen.
~ Sister Joan Sobala