|Posted on April 6, 2020 at 7:25 AM|
Yesterday was Palm Sunday. Usually I spend Palm Sunday in church, waving palm branches as we sing commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. But yesterday, I drove over to my church to collect palm branches while remaining in my car, then I drove back home to watch the live stream of the small service held inside my church. It was just not the same, but it was still a worship service, and reminded me that we have begun Holy Week. It’s going to be a Holy Week like no other!
This is the holiest of weeks – on Thursday we celebrate the Institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and on Friday we remember the crucifixion and death of our Lord. Then we will wait in anticipation until Sunday Morning, when He will rise triumphant from the grave. It will be so different this year, as my husband and I sit in our living room, doing the best we can to pray and “attend” these services through the computer.
Although this whole week is important, today I’d like to look at Good Friday. I attended an on-line webinar on Saturday, and discussion turned to the events of Good Friday. (By the way, The Passion of the Christ is a great movie to watch this week.) During His hours of torture, Jesus took on all our sins. He endured the most horrific of deaths to atone for those sins. I can’t imagine what that must have been like - I can handle some pain, but when it gets really bad, I become a big wimp. Yet Jesus endured it all, without complaint, a gentle Lamb led to the slaughter.
Have you ever read anything about what it is like to be crucified? To be hung upon a cross, with your arms outstretched and the weight of your body pulling you down onto your pierced feet? I have read that crucifixion victims experience excruciating pain as their lungs collapse, and they must push up with their feet to try to get some air into their starving airways. When they become so weak they are unable to do this any longer, they suffocate. What a harsh and painful way to die.
But here is something else to think about. In the past several weeks, thousands of people have literally suffocated due to the coronavirus pandemic. People with severe cases of Covid-19 have a rapid and progressive shortness of breath, which I understand is very painful. The inability to get enough oxygen into their lungs is a major factor causing death.
When I look back at the death of Jesus, I notice that He hung alone on the cross during his suffocation. Oh, yes, His mother and John were there, but they could not touch him. Even the two thieves next to him were unreachable. Jesus was kept at least six feet from everyone else, and he suffered and died alone. Just like the coronavirus patients.
This was an eye-opening comparison for me! Here we are in Holy Week, the week we recall so intimately how Jesus suffered and died. And so many people are dying each day from the virus. We may wonder why God has allowed this virus to affect so many in our world. I do not know, but I do know that Jesus understands exactly what these patients are feeling. He lived it, and He died it. For us.
Could this perhaps be a wake-up call? Maybe I have been laisse-faire about my church attendance or attentiveness at mass, or I have not taken much time lately to get a better understanding of my faith. Have I been focusing too much on concerts, sporting events, shopping or other worldly things and not paying attention to what really matters?
This week I encourage you to take a look at your life: look at what used to matter before the virus hit and what matters to you now. Perhaps, like me, you can see some ways in which you were not focused on your faith before, and that is changing now. Maybe this week you can start to see what really matters in your life and in your faith.
I know there will be an end sometime to the suffering of the Holy Week in which we live. God will somehow bring us through, and there will be a Resurrection. This is the hope that I will cling to. I pray that you too will be able to find hope as you ride out this storm, looking for what truly matters in your life.
Have a blessed Monday!
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