HOLY WEEK: SOCIAL DISTANCING DOES NOT DISTANCE US FROM THE CROSS

The pandemic does not make it possible for some of us to participate physically in the Holy Week liturgies and the sacraments. What an experience of the Cross it is, and what an invitation to see things in a new light!

From the Cross, our Savior reminds us that he is present every time we read the Scriptures, and every time we consciously live this promise with someone else: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am present among them” (Matthew 18,20). The persons taking this promise seriously, DO have the presence of Jesus among them – even if separated by many miles and even continents. Jesus has promised always to be present in this way if we remember to allow him to. This is one way of living the Cross with those who suffer today.

Saint Eugene recalled:

Can I forget the bitter tears that the sight of the cross brought streaming from my eyes one Good Friday?

Eugene de Mazenod, Retreat Journal, December 1814, EO XV n.130

“How could we get deeper into this salvatorian spirituality of ours? Let me mention three ways.   First.  Someone inspired by St. Eugene will not be afraid of the cross. As true Oblates we will look openly into the face of the suffering and crucified Christ. This is done not so much by pictures and movies as by reading the Scriptures, experiencing Christ’s presence in the sacraments and looking into the face of the poorest of our brothers and sisters.

W. Steckling OMI, OMI Information n 462, Rome, February 2007.


“Sometimes we are tempted to be that kind of Christian who keeps the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length. Yet Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others. He hopes that we will stop looking for those personal or communal niches which shelter us from the maelstrom of human misfortune and instead enter into the reality of other people’s lives and know the power of tenderness. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated and we experience intensely what it is to be a people, to be part of a people.”

Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 270.

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1 Response to HOLY WEEK: SOCIAL DISTANCING DOES NOT DISTANCE US FROM THE CROSS

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning I find myself looking at Mary our Mother and Mary Magdalene… Standing at the foot of the cross as Jesus was dying. They did not seek ways to run and hide from their pain and sorrow, or to flee to false safety. Mary who first said ‘let it be done unto me according to your will’; then hearing the same from her son as he hung on the cross and gave up his life to the Father. There was no waving of a holy magic wand to alleviate the suffering of the cross. We are called to stand in and with the cross.

    How often we tend to want to clean up images, dress them up so as to be presentable and hide the messiness; within ourselves and others. Certainly, a way of distancing ourselves from the pain and suffering. And yet here this morning we are being reminded and invited even in the midst of a terrible pandemic to enter more fully into experiencing the cross – with others. We are reminded of this not only by the scriptures and Eugene, but by our Church and our brothers and sisters who walk with us.

    Pope Francis’s words touch me deeply as he says: “Yet Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others. He hopes that we will stop looking for those personal or communal niches which shelter us from the maelstrom of human misfortune and instead enter into the reality of other people’s lives and know the power of tenderness. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated and we experience intensely what it is to be a people, to be part of a people.”
    All this so that we can “know the power of tenderness”. I am not sure that we are used to thinking of the term tenderness in the light of the cross. And yet that is where we see tenderness as find Jesus in those who are suffering, lost and seemingly abandoned.

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