Amid the difficult times and the strife that awaits those who follow in the footprints of Christ, do we forget who we are and what it is that we are called to do?
The day after Palm Sunday is a time that could otherwise be filled with the distractions of those focused on the Triduum in just a few days. There is a lot to prepare (like the disciples sent ahead by Jesus in yesterday’s Gospel) and a lot to keep in mind while juggling the demands of a modern family, work, and personal life during one of the most important times of the liturgical year. For these and other reasons, it is good that our First Reading today calls us back to our roots and reminds us of what our mission statement is as Christians.
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
What the prophet proclaims here is what Jesus’s whole life and ministry are about: bringing forth justice to the nations, opening the eyes of the blind, freeing prisoners, bringing people out of darkness, proclaiming the word of God through means not of coercion but of gentleness, love, and peace.
Because it is so easy to get distracted by our own personal devotional sense of awe, wonder, sorrow, and joy — not that these things are bad as we move from the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday through Good Friday to Easter — we can forget what this celebration of the Passion of the Lord is really means.
It is the via crucis, the “way of the cross,” and a “way” is a path to be followed. This is not to suggest that the path is all about crucifixion (pace Mel Gibson), but the way is about the Truth that will set us free, the life that we live after the model of Jesus Christ.
The truth that sets us free and the path or way of life we are called to follow is about more than suffering, just as Holy Week is about more than death. It is about the love that offers itself freely for the sake of the other and the life that conquers death and forbids mortality from having the last word.
Are we ready to walk the via crucis, the way of Christ that leads to the Lord’s Supper and to Golgatha and to the empty tomb? Are we willing to exercise the mission statement Isaiah reminds us of and that Jesus modeled on the very path to the cross? Or are we only focused on what “we can get out” of”Holy Week and Easter?
The journey has begun again.