This is Holy Week; the last lap of the Lenten marathon in our effort to go deeper in our faith, grow stronger in our spirituality, and to get closer to God; now Christ’s passion is upon us. We have been talking about death, an aspect of our lives that we tend to avoid at all costs for the most part. If you have been attending the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during these weeks, you relive the passion of Christ and if you have gone more than once, you relive it over and over. Does it get any better, easier to hear? Do you picture this event as a bystander in the crowd? Have you ever tried to put yourself in the place of Mary, watching her son in the midst of His passion? Could you bare it any better than she? How about Veronica, have you ever thought about her role? I totally admire her! Here on the road to Christ’s crucifixion, she fights through the angry crowd, probably shoves a guard or two getting to Jesus to wipe His face. Her love and devotion, mourning and terror overwhelm her to the point of action! How many of us have had a surge of emotion overwhelm us to the point of action? In the middle of Wal-Mart 17 years ago, my knight, son and I were shopping; I left them with our infant daughter to go across the store for diapers. From a good distance as I was returning to them, I saw our infant in her carrier in the middle of the aisle with no one guarding her, instantly I began running towards her. I know I bumped several people and moved a few carts (shoved??) aside to get to my helpless, unguarded infant. When I got there, both my knight and son were down the other end of the aisle immersed in a toy or something and totally not watching (guarding) the baby!! I was not to be argued with at that moment and they knew it. I took control of the situation immediately and from that point on, believe me!
Not so for our beloved Mary, she had no control over this situation; she had to let it happen…”Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me (or for this instance Jesus) according to thy word.” She was given the heads up long ago about this day by Simone in the temple, but could this day be given to someone else? Could she have another day with him? God’s plan must be carried out and Jesus knew that and would have fought her about it anyhow. The Incarnate knew His purpose, knew His role, and knew that this day was coming and was preparing for it. Mary was totally helpless at that moment of time as she basically was her entire life; her faith was strong enough to carry out the plans of God for her. As a human, though, it could not have been any easier, however. Oh no! Jesus was her life; He was her child for 33 years, which is a very long time to be so bonded to have it taken away. Yes, he was in ministry for three years and she probably didn’t see Him much, but she knew He was still her son near or far away. I am the mother of a son who lives over two hours away, I don’t get to see him but a few times a year now, but I know he is there and still my son.
During this week, we will be talking more and more about the Passion of Christ, how he died so cruelly at the hands of an angry, zealous crowd. There will be no happy talk, just death which is way too hard to talk about much less contemplate it for an entire week, don’t you think? But let’s put another spin on it for a moment. When we talk about fasting, almsgiving, and prayer; basically we are talking about dying to ourselves. Giving up things that we take for granted and enjoy like giving up chocolate, TV, or the computer. Fasting from meat on Fridays, abstaining from eating an hour before and after Mass each day we attend Mass, donating to the poor, giving to the rice bowl, or just making an extra offering to the basket each week during Lent, praying more, finding a devotional to follow during Lent; which is a popular activity here at the Pillar household. All these activities are about dying to self. Dying to our own selfish desires may take some thought, but we can do it. Just think about some of the favorite things that you enjoy; a hot shower, that beloved morning cup of coffee, dessert after a good meal, going to the mall, spending an hour or more on Facebook, playing games on your smartphone or online; how about letting others in line first, not taking the last cookie in the jar, saving the last swig of milk in the frig for the next person , purchasing something new for someone else instead of yourself are all small things, but enough to make a difference for this week.
Take the challenge to die to selfish things this week, think before you do something and see if possibly this could be done for someone else instead. Possibly attend Mass for someone else, offering the needs and concerns of another for that hour before our Lord? There is a beauty in giving, giving it up, and offering an activity for others. Mary gave her entire life to God and His plan. In studying the lives of the saints, they too gave so much of their lives to the service of others and especially to God. They returned their sufferings and trials to God knowing that in this dying to themselves they were blessing God and others around them. In our dying to ourselves, we are not working solely or in a solitary moment, but with and for those around us. Nothing we do is a solitary act, we are never alone, we affect others in one way or another…always.
Some say it’s too late to get it right since they failed to accomplish what they planned to do during these 40 days; but they are wrong! Many families will make this week as quiet and solemn as possible to allow contemplation and prayer. We can all make a difference one day at a time, one act at a time, one moment at a time.
This is my prayer for my family and for you as well.