Weeks of the year come and go, shortening to days as the years mount, till they move so rapidly they become trains rushing by each other in a continuing blur, trains peopled with memories. It must have been so with Christ, as even the days became hours running out of minutes during the week that began on a donkey, seemed to all the world to have ended on a cross, and started all over again in a garden. All the days of His years must have kaleidoscoped through His mind, the years of His mother’s widowhood, of the water into wine, the loaves and fishes and blind men and lepers and Lazarus and the alabaster box of precious ointment. Then the hosannas and the palm and olive branches and only a day or two to sort it all out and be ready for Gethsemane and a bloody sweat, for night lanterns and rough guards and a searing kiss of betrayal.
Everything chaotic now, minutes tumbling over one another, time racing onward and backward simultaneously, splintered by shrieks and giggles and lashes and thorns and questions that don’t make sense because the answers are already known, or feared, or twisted into a sentence of death…better that one man should die for the people.
Do some tricks for me, make me some miracles. What is truth, are you a king, where are your armies? Better that one man die for the people. He makes Himself out to be the Son of God. Better that one man die for the people. Tear your garments, tear His flesh, hosanna to the Son of David, crucify Him and give us Barabbas. Let me wash my hands. It is better that one man die for the people.
My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? O Lord Jesus, is that the way it was with You? Did you get all mixed up and ask Yourself how it had all happened – where had all the flowers gone and the people who thought You were so wonderful? Did the pain shoot way past Your head and Your hands and Your feet; deep, deep, deep into Your soul, so that you could no longer feel the touch of Your Father’s love in the numbness of it? Did the blood run into the eyes of Your heart so that You could no longer see the wonder of His glory in You?
Is that why You know our pain so well, our suffering, our loneliness and desolation, and how we get all mixed up about life? Is that why You understand how our faith falters and we’re not always sure of what we believe or why, and how much it hurts to be misunderstood or ridiculed or slandered or deserted or divorced or unwillingly pregnant or emptied by an abortion? Is that why we can lay on You the insecurity of our dwindling years, the confusion of our adolescence, the broken dreams of our middle age?
Is that what Your having become a human being is all about?
Column by John Cardinal O’Connor
Catholic New York