As we reflect on Holy week this year it is different because the world is not the same for any of us right now. We are experiencing isolation and uncertainty as we long for the familiar rituals that we share with our sisters and brothers. This week each of us walks a personal journey to Calvary with our individual feelings, concerns and hope.
We know many of the events that occurred in the days prior to Jesus’s crucifixion and death, but I can’t help but wonder what were His thoughts and those of the disciples. Did they fear the unknown for themselves and for Jesus? Scripture tells us that the followers of Christ reacted to those fears in various ways. There was denial and betrayal, even running away by some, but then there was also compassion and caring, giving of oneself and forgiveness.
Jesus, in His humanity, experienced many of the same things we might at the end of our earthly journey. He gathered with those he loved and they broke bread together.
As they shared a Passover meal in the Upper Room Jesus washed the feet of His disciple’s which was the custom of that time before a communal meal. By performing this humble act, Jesus demonstrated by example how believers should love one another.
St. John Paul II said “The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, “as I have done… so also must you do” (Jn 13: 15).
The garden of Gethsemane was a place where Jesus had on occasion went off to and so after Passover He went there with His disciples. While Jesus went off to pray, Peter, James and John were asked to remain nearby and stay watch and yet Jesus returned twice to find that they had fallen asleep, but He did not chastise them; he let them be.
There He was betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and then arrested by the Sanhedrin. Peter followed the guards at a distance and remained outside the gates of the courtyard where he denied knowing his Master three times before the rooster crowed. Judas and Peter were two of Jesus’s closest disciples and yet it was them who betrayed Him and denied Him. Have you ever felt that friends or family weren’t there for you in your time of need? If so how did that make you feel …. abandoned, alone, angry, disappointed, forgotten? If you were the friend who wasn’t there for someone were you remorseful, did you make amends, did you carry guilt with you?
On the day of the Crucifixion Jesus graciously accepted the kindness of Veronica as she stepped forward and wiped His face with a cloth. He also willingly let Simon of Cyrene help Him to carry the cross. It wasn’t that their gestures were of great magnitude but they were from the heart. The women who were with Mary at the foot of the cross they too gave a gift, one of compassion and support. What gifts have you accepted from others and received with gratitude?
We don’t know much about Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea except that they took Jesus' body down from the cross and then Joseph wrapped it in a cloth and laid it in a tomb. Yet another act of kindness.
Jesus prayed to His Father to take away the pain and suffering He was about to endure. So too now we turn to God as we are f