Hello friends and happy Holy Week. Yes – it is a very serious week in the Catholic Church. When you enter our places of worship all the statues are covered, the crucifixes draped in purple cloth and it seems every face you see is focused in a very serious state of prayer. But for me it is truly one of my favorite weeks and I celebrate because it is a time that honors the blessing of our humanity. God made us as broken creatures who are filled with fear, doubt, anxiety, shame, anger, pain – and yet he can use each one of us in all of our brokenness to literally change the world.
So often our human spirit leads us to believe we are alone, we are misunderstood, and things are dire. But the secret to faith is knowing there is more than we can see – its just not meant for our eyes. Instead we must let go of the self we so strongly cling to, thinking this life is all up to us – when rather if we die to ourselves, it can make room for God to live through us. And ya’ll – that is a hard concept for us weak ones! So this week we are surrounded with examples of those people who faced the same feelings and conquered them ….. even if it took losing to them first.
Do you feel anxious and lost? Is it difficult to trust things are going to be ok? Or that life is on the “right track”? Maybe you are so overcome with these feelings you can’t even get out of bed! Or maybe you can get up but your brain is constantly in turmoil. In some cases you might even have an idea of where you are being called to – but it doesn’t make any sense and so the stress sets in – what to do…. what to do…. Or just maybe you are facing the most challenging moment in your life with no choice but to go forward and you are dreading each and every step. Guess who knows exactly what that feels like? Jesus. In the garden before the night of his crucifixion he is begging God – please “let this cup pass from me” . Jesus was made fully human to relate to his people so he knows intimately that feeling of dread – even in his infinite wisdom, he knows he must walk forward but is so paralyzed by the anxiety and fear he sweats BLOOD. Is there any one in this world that has so faced fear he literally released blood? If you are in one of these moments – talk to Jesus… he knows exactly what your heart feels and has the added joy of also knowing exactly what it needs if you let him in.
Loneliness is one of the hardest emotions to deal with while being human. It can be life altering to feel you don’t have someone in your corner or when that someone you did have and counted on lets you down. We are built for human interaction and thus we are created to hurt when we are left alone or betrayed. As Jesus sat in that garden counting down the hours until his death all he asked was his friends to be with him….. just stay awake. They couldn’t. You have just poured out your heart, begged to be anywhere else on the planet, and coming up without the result you had hoped for…. but you think at least you have your tribe with you. And yet there they lay sleeping, peacefully unaware of the pending doom or Jesus’ paralyzing fear. Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday – Jesus entered the city like a king and before week’s end that crowd would write his death sentence. Sometimes in life feeling part of the inside crowd can change on a dime, and to assure Jesus could tend to those who live in loneliness he was led to feel it on the greatest scale – from king to no body. Thus he has chosen to never leave us alone – even when we don’t call on him – he never wants another human to face that sort of emptiness. So he waits for the moment we can visibly walk with him….. but until then you must know: we are never alone.
And finally, my most favorite of this week…. have you ever had life get so messy that your sure it can’t possibly be fixed and yet when you look back on it you can see why. This isn’t fate folks, it ain’t the changing of the winds…. this is God – he was the author of serendipity… and the sweetest kind: brokenness that leads to healing. For Jesus to walk this path of saving all human kind he had to be betrayed by his best friend, he had to be rebuked by his people, he had to provided a judge that would rather wash his hands than get involved. All of these human people had to make mistakes – both big and small – that literally said to Jesus, “I reject you” and God was able to use that rejection to give the life of his only son to our world. Have you done something that you believe makes you unloveable? Has something happened to you that you figure you are ruined for life? Are you facing a moment that it seems life will be this hard/painful/messy forever? God can use it – he craves our broken lives to heal us and then help him heal the world. There is nothing we can do that can’t be given for good. Why not give it to him for repurpose? You might be amazed at what happens next.
These are just a few examples of what you can learn about Jesus and our own humanity this week. Take sometime, read the stories, pray over the passages, identify your most painful struggle and I know you can find it spoken to directly this week. God is reaching out to remind us he made us human and it is only through this humanity that we can truly serve him.
If you have been away from faith for a few weekends or many decades – this is the week my dear sweet friends to return. This is the week all sinners are able to join together and watch the journey of our Lord through suffering to the greatest miracle of all: life after death. God can use you…. God needs you…. you are so imperfectly made, we need you to help celebrate his passion and then spread his mission. If this is your week, I pray you find the incredible beauty that is waiting to be discovered and that we all may walk with the Lord on the way to the cross and then dance with him on Sunday because he is alive once again.
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!