How we act and move forward in moments of crisis arises in large measure from how we are in the rest of our lives. Whenever we experience the potentially insurmountable, our deeply rooted values and habits see us through, or nudge us or at least surface. True, sometimes, people are different in moments of crisis- theirs or someone else’s. For the most part, we are who we are.
Beginning with today, Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, and all week long, the gospel readings are about crisis – not just Jesus’ crisis, although it is primarily that. We see also crisis in all of the figures who share in His story. Their stories of crisis mirror our own, full of love, apprehension, apathy, despair, success, wonder, self-satisfaction and pain.
Consider Peter, James and John in the garden. Jesus desperately needed their companionship, but they slept on. How often when we are in need, our friends do not have the strength or understanding to keep vigil with us – or we with them in their need. Or perhaps God needs us and we are asleep. That’s a thought to linger over, isn’t it?
Take Judas and Peter. They each suffered from illusion. - Judas the illusion of his own power to force Jesus into messianic action and Peter the illusion of his own faithfulness. Each of their illusions was shattered during Jesus’ passion, yet how differently they came through the other side: Judas went to death by his own hand and Peter went on to lead the post-resurrection Church.
Jesus had been with Mary Magdalen in her crisis, when emotional and psychological sickness threatened to overwhelm her. She never forgot. In her utter devotion to Jesus, she stood beneath the cross, prepared Him for burial, witnessed to His risen presence as no other and proclaimed with authority that Christ was risen.
Pilate had his own crisis. Should he listen to his own conscience and stand up for Jesus or give in to the pressure of his office and to Jesus’ enemies?
These people and others experienced critical moments during Jesus’ passion. They would be the better or the worse for their participation in His last days. Jesus would have had enough to do to keep Himself glued together through this whole series of events, yet in His passion, he related to them even as He relates to us. We are Peter and Pilate, Judas and Mary Magdalene, the criminals and the crowds.
So on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, let us set aside the ordinary things that absorb our lives. Let us make time to worship together because we belong to Christ and to each other. Our lives are interwoven into Jesus’ great life crisis. This week, like no other time of the year, we are called to contemplate and participate, to remember the Lord’s self-giving and recommit ourselves to be one with Christ.
-Sister Joan Sobala