MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK
A centurion standing by the Cross heard the last words of Jesus committing his spirit into his Father’s hands and breathing his last. The centurion said, ‘this was a great and good man’.
It is the least we can say about Jesus. His teaching and his way of living and dying witness to a most rare authenticity in human beings. We look at Jesus and see a great teacher of humanity, a model of what human-ness means and an example of what we can aspire to. But because we feel he is exemplary, and we come late to the work of learning what he is teaching, it is easier to put him on a pedestal and worship him from afar. This is radically to misunderstand his teaching and his example. ‘I do not call you servants...I call you friends’. ‘I in them and you in me, may they be perfectly one’. ‘Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.’
The story we read yesterday and now enter into Holy Week is – should be – very disturbing to everyone, especially to those who think of themselves as his disciples. It changes the way we see ourselves, our life, death and ultimate meaning. It shakes us roughly – just as he shook the sleeping disciples in Gethsemane - to awaken us from complacency. He asks us ‘who do you say I am’. If we choose to listen and consider our response, we fall over the horizon of all that we think we are into a self-knowing that is plunging into God, endless being.
Yet this happens without losing our humanity. But our human-ness must be wholly surrendered and transformed. We become inhuman, less than human, when we fail to see this condition of our existence. Then we are capable of crucifying an innocent great and good man, of bombing innocent women and children and murdering the citizens of Bucha. Without knowing ourselves we cannot be who Jesus teaches us we are.
God is everywhere present and yet unknowable. But, when we slip over the horizon of the ego, so is our Self. To know God and our Self means entering a way of unknowing in which seeing happens beyond the filter of division.
God is always absent – as an object. God can only be known by sharing in his own self-knowing which does not mean to fall in love with God but to fall into the love that is God. For my part, the “I” that I think I am never happy or fulfilled because it is a work in progress that could be shut down at any moment for lack of funds or invaded by alien forces.
In Holy Week the Spirit that Jesus breathed into humanity guides us to look into the abyss we dread. She teaches us about all we find through loss.
Lenten Reflections 2022