What can we talk about the Paschal Mystery of the Lord? What can we say about His Passion? Perhaps a lot… perhaps a little… perhaps nothing.
Yet, even in His own time, people were much confused and do not how to comprehend, understand, and know where to stand with the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who said a lot throughout His condemnatory trial, unjust sentence, and painful passion carried with them a lot of hatred, envy, condemnation, and self-justification. They wanted to silence a rabbi who was deemed to be their opponent, enemy of the people, and someone against the ideal Pax Romana. There were also those who were cowardice and scared because they could not comprehend the mystery of divine love through the Cross. We also see Jesus who said little, but every one of His words carried profound meanings. Last, of all, there were the Blessed Mother, believers, and His beloved disciple who walked silently along the Way of the Cross.
Which ones are we?
Perhaps at times, we are the vocal ones. Maybe we are the ones who were scared and abandoned the Lord because His way was too much to take in and to bear at the moment. Perhaps everything is just too much to understand but we are still walking with Him! Maybe we are the ones who are trying our best to take it all in, learning from the Master and Savior of what it means to lay down our lives as sacrificial offerings for the greater good of the world.
Whoever we are or think we actually are, all of us are invited to make Christ’s journey of the Cross our own. There is no journey victorious gain without the pains of trying hard each day to climb and overcome the mountains! There is no resurrection without His ultimate act of sacrifice in laying down His life for us and the world.
The invitation for this Holy Week is perhaps a personal one for many of us since this Lenten Season has been a hard one for many in America and around the world; but even then, we have learned many things as well. Perhaps many did not go out to look for all these trials and they were given to us. Many have had their faith tested, doubts entered and consumed them at times. Many perhaps wanted to walk away because things we getting too real and too hard, especially when the Devil told us that we have been abandoned by God. Not many went out to look for a sacrificial Lent but many received it more than they wanted or hoped for… yet, we have learned much from life itself.
Why do I say this? Here is something to think about… First of all, the word we often heard in recent days, quarantine comes from the Latin word, “quadraginta,” which means forty days. In Italian the word is quarentina; and in Spanish, cuarentina. Its root signifies the forty days of Christ in the desert. Furthermore, Lent is Quadragesima in Latin. In Italian, it is Quaresima; and in Spanish, Cuaresma. For those who know a little bit of Latin or a Romance language, we can see that they all share the same indication of forty days. Simply put, quarantine and Lent share the same etymological root! Therefore, I think for this particular Lenten season, we were called to go into the desert with Him. It was scary at first because we were removed and had to let go of what we were comfortable and used to, but we were also given the wonderful opportunity to seek and find God who is waiting for us — and ourselves in Him. It was hard for many, but many were changed, faith deepened, hope strengthened, and charity put into practice.
In all these things that have happened, we are realistically reminded of our finitude and mortality. Reality really scares us! We have realized that we are not in control over nature, biology, or technology as we have liked. Many things went wrong so fast in such a short time! We disliked it because our lives were interrupted and challenged. Yet, even in the midst of many challenges and reasons to give into despair, there were also moments of valuable lessons. Nevertheless, when we stripped away from our usual conveniences and comforts, we began to see what is important and necessary. When we were able to rise above our self-created pities and blaming of others, we were able to see that we need each other.
With everything that went on, we began to rediscover communication, our neighbor, one another, and even our own selves after all the sentimental and emotional reactions subsided. Times of isolation perhaps forced us to spend some time with reflection, thinking, and praying. We were given obstacles and opportunities. We had a choice to either give into despair or learn and practice faith, hope, and love. Even though this Lent has many unseen and unfortunate biological, humanistic, or social failures, God’s providential love reminds us that evil does not have the last words.
Through the Cross, the Lord Jesus Christ took all the hatred, oppositions, and evil of this world upon Himself. He gave Himself up as expiation for our sins, exchanged His life to save and redeem us. He taught us that God’s love for us is real! Therefore, to love is to be like Christ in words and deeds, life and attitudes, so our love is united to His’ and His love changes ours and the world when we live our lives as His disciples.
As we live this Holy Week, all of us are called to practice kenosis, the emptying of ourselves in order to take on attitude and heart of the Lord. I will end this reflection short so we can reflect, pray, and allow the personal examples of our Savior to transform us, bringing us closer to His love as we embrace our particular trials and hardships, sufferings and their doubts, to truly love embrace our life’s challenges for the love of Him who loves us.