The Sacred Story of The Passion of Our Lord unfolds within us this Holy Week because through our Baptism we are embodied in Christ. We are in His Passion and Death. We are on the cross with him. This belief raises one question within me:
“As I read this story, where do I see myself in it? Or where do I share in the Passion of Jesus Christ?”
Spend the rest of Holy Week through the day of Easter pondering this question. Repeat it like a mantra throughout the week.
Allow God who willed this week for our salvation to penetrate within you. You will become an answer to your own sacred question, through your perseverance in pouring over this question you become an answer, and an answer to other people’s prayers! That is ministry. And the confirmation that we are chosen by God to be other Christs for others is found in the very obstacles, setbacks, defeats and dissolution that we encounter. The prophet Isaiah was lead to await wonderful results, but instead, “…. I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly spent my strength.” (Isa. 49:4-5)
Both of those experiences (within you, and through you to others) have relevance if you ponder them with trust and anticipation.
Do not cheat or cut back on the time pondered or this. Trust and anticipation of what is to come is equivalent to faith. Recall Isaiah’s words again.
I am very conscious of people I have encountered who have become
“islands unto themselves” and “distant peoples” especially with regard their relationship with God! A dream smashed, plans that just did not work out, an anticipated outcome that never worked out, all because “I relied on God, and prayed to Him, and He didn’t answer my prayer. I don’t trust Him anymore. I do not attend Church. What is the point?”
Consider this then in your prayer. This prophet and Jesus realized that where they were called into earthly life was not for their own ambition, but to achieve a fragile love and a faithful consecration with God and with their neighbors within the context of their particular earthly life! What does not seem to matter in the eyes of the world and its standards for happiness and success, makes all the difference in the eyes of God! Life’s most tragic events, through the faith demonstrated through Holy Week, can turn our mind and heart to the Lord’s glory and to our friendship with the Lord, in a more effective way than any other way in the world.
The first person in our lives must be the presence of God. Such was Jesus’ response to the following. In between announcements of the two betrayals, one by Judas and the other by Peter, Jesus declared: “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him.”(John 13:31)
Isaiah the prophet and Jesus relied totally on the Will and the Way of God as they lived through their own “death experiences.”
Pray for this wisdom and grace of “dying to rise” through the Grace of God. It could become an answer to someone else’s prayer.
This was written under the inspiration of Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.