When praying and pondering upon what to share with you guys before heading to our long-awaited and well-deserved break, this phrase came to mind: Holy Week: rough starts and happy endings.
Allow me to explain. 😉
It is not uncommon as we approach Holy Week for many, especially those of us who move in a religious environment, to listen and take a closer look at the stories about Jesus. There is one that has hit closely because of our present situation and it is the story of the death of a man called Lazarus. This story was recorded by John in Chapter 11 of his gospel. Jesus was very close to Lazarus’ family, unfortunately, he could not be with them when his friend got sick and passed away. His sisters were devastated. When Jesus finally arrives four days after his friend’s passing one of the sisters, in desperation and with a very honest lament asks, “where were you? If you would’ve been here, none of this would’ve happened?”
What a painful declaration – you were not here…where were you when we needed you?
There are a lot of times in our lives when we feel like saying this to God. Like during these times that we are waging a global war against an enemy we do not see, a pandemic. “God, do you not care about me? About us? About the world?” It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts. It sure moved Jesus, to the point of tears.
This Holy Week, there will surely be tears. We will be missing the palms of Palm Sunday and the many Easter traditions we like to celebrate with our communities of faith and families. We will be feeling like it’s not Holy Week, like Jesus is not with us.
It’s okay not to be okay sometimes. We’re taught never to pretend in our prayer, to dare to express our honest feelings to God, the way Lazarus’s sisters did. I would like to invite you this week to come to Jesus. With all your heart, all your pain, all your fears and raise an honest prayer. I can assure you He can take it. He does listen and will make his presence felt. He is not up there in heaven watching us indifferently. He is with us, weeping with us, suffering and dying with us, assuring us that death cannot have the final say if we hold on to him, even in the dark, even in the midst of temptation to despair, to fall apart and break into pieces.
He is here, in our front-liners who put their lives on the line, in the doctors and nurses and all other caregivers, in the volunteers who bring food to the hungry, in those who dare to open their doors to the front-liners and the homeless, those who continue to produce food and make it available in the markets, in the stores, those who dare to be out there so that we could be allowed to stay home and defeat this unseen enemy.
God is a God of love. His love can never be defeated by death. And that is what Holy week is all about.
Saint Augustine tells us that when we are tempted to despair, it is then that we must stubbornly assert our faith and declare, “We are Easter people, and our song is Alleluia!” The story of redemption never ends on the cross or in the tomb. It breaks out of the tomb. Our faith teaches us to believe that our stories will have a happy ending.
That story of Lazarus has a rough start but a surprisingly happy ending: Jesus brings Lazarus back to life! Our hope is in that same God. He will call out our names the way he called Lazarus to come out of the tomb, to awaken us from the slumber of death, to liberate us from fear and hopelessness.
And so we must have the courage to declare with hope: We trust a good God. We believe in happy endings. If it’s not yet happy, then it’s not yet the end. He will see us through this.
In this together,
Here are some fun sites you can visit as a family for Easter activities: