Holy Week

One of my campus ministry colleagues said recently, “On the college campus, it’s always Maundy Thursday and never Easter, always Advent and never Christmas.”  He felt sad that he never got to celebrate the big holidays with students.  For this Holy week and Easter, we have even less of an opportunity for any kind of spiritual observance.  We have a big campus event on Maundy Thursday, so our celebration of Holy Week was truncated to just Palm Sunday.  So in place of any formal event, here is a brief reflection on these holy days.

Everywhere he went, Jesus found people whose lives had been torn to shreds.  Illness, disability, or tragedy had stripped them bare, even to the point of having to beg for their daily bread.  As they struggled to piece their lives back together, they longed for one simple thing:  the touch of their Creator.  A palm pressed on withered legs, mud plastered over blind eyes, a brush of the cloak, and they were transformed.  Sometimes, Jesus didn’t even need to place his hands on their weary feet or worn-out faces.  The fact that their lives were touched by the living God was powerful enough.

Jesus was put to death by people who refused to acknowledge his touch.  His enemies insisted on disengaging from the sick and poor.  They claimed that his simple acts of kindness were diabolical.  Some of the people who turned against him wanted war, or glory, or maybe even just a good “straightening out” of all the things wrong with the world …  technical, de-personalized stuff.  A stranger had to be brought in to carry Jesus’ cross, because his friends vanished.   I wonder what Simon of Cyrene thought as he brushed against God incarnate, the One whom no one would touch.

I wonder if we too have brushed against God incarnate … and if we realized what was happening.  I wonder how many times we have been in the presence of someone who felt there was nothing left … and whether we reached out in that moment.  I wonder if we will be re-created this Easter:  neither empty flesh nor wandering spirits, but living manifestations of the grace and power of the Living One.

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