14 April 2019 – PALM SUNDAY
The Real week
As this is being printed, the terrible news of the desecration of the crypt of St. Michan’s in Dublin is in the news. You might recall that the crypt of this ancient site where remains were disturbed, including those of an 800 year old Crusader and a 400 year old Nun What has our society come to? Is there any respect for the living or the dead? But as with all news stories -we move on…
Well Lent has moved on… with Palm (Passion) Sunday comes the Week that Christian mark as no other. Our ancestors called it an “Seachtain Mór” or “Great Week.” We usually call it simply “Holy Week.” . With Palm Sunday comes the high solemn feast of God’s dark glory and grandeur. With Palm Sunday comes the most awesome and terrifying time in the Church year. As Advent is to Christmas- so Lent is to Holy Week. Except Christmas has a birth and sure who’d be afraid of a baby? But Holy Week has a certain tone of anxiety and fearful waiting. Of course we know the end (or is it really the beginning?) of Holy Week leads us to an empty tomb and Resurrection. Still – maybe we should call it the “Real Week”- because it mirrors so much of the reality of our human vulnerability. God in Jesus is stripped bare, handled and seized, beaten and mocked and spat upon. And we do not like vulnerability- and we certainly don’t easily grasp the willingness of God to suffer with us and for us. The child Jesus is easy to accept- the suffering Jesus remains a struggle for us.
My late priest uncle had a pretty gruesome picture of Jesus crucified- you can feel the pain etched on his features- the more I think of it, he was right. In modern art, we have sanitised and smoothed over the rough edges of our lives so much that we have a problem when the cross swerves into our lives. For instance in modern language-People don’t “die”- “they pass away.” It was not unusual to have the death of a patient in a hospital denoted as “negative patient-care outcome.” Yes euphemisms are alive and well as they make it easier for us to grasp hard realities. So this week, is a time to be real and to grapple with the matter. Life is beautiful, yet it can be tough but for the Christian while we may be unsure of what the future holds for any of us- we do know who holds the future.