We are only a few weeks into the Easter Season, but already I feel spiritually different than previous years. This is a good thing, I hope. Normally, I enjoy the Sunday readings leading up to Pentecost because they so simply reveal the reactions of the first believers. They move from fear and disbelief to joy as they encounter the Risen Christ. It is not too hard to connect what they see and hear with the earliest beginnings of how our faith comes to us today.
March 24 was the day before Palm Sunday, when Holy Week began. Social media was abuzz that day for the March for Our Lives national event. The following week, on Easter Sunday, social media would be abuzz again. This time it was for the new production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
I imagine that many of the people who were witnesses or participants in the former would also be interested in the latter owing to age, pop cultural interests, or other factors. But it’s also true that some might not be into both because of the admixture of politics and religion.
Holy Week Readings
But like I said, this year it’s been different. I know there were parishioners in DC on March 24 and on Palm Sunday. I saw them. We waved our signs there; we waved our palms after. We heard many speak.
We heard Emma Gonzalez deliver 6 minutes and 20 seconds of sound and silence, not unlike the readings of the Passion we would hear on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. We marched in DC, we processed in Church. We remembered and prayed for the dead and dying. We made and renewed promises.
Emma said, “Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.” That made sense in DC on March 24. At Holy Week’s end we Catholics understood that our lives had been redeemed by someone else’s agony before a crowd. Others had gone before us. Parents and godparents first pledged for us. Our community first raised the newly baptized. More fundamentally, God fulfilled His promise in Christ’s life poured out in the Holy Spirit.
So I hear the Sunday Readings differently this year. They often repeat that it is the first day of the week. Even though it’s several days later for us, the story is still taking place on Easter Sunday. It’s like a person in grief telling the all important story of what happened so that we can always remember it.
But we also become witnesses to what happens on the other side of grief. It isn’t simply erased. Jesus still bears his wounds and invites Thomas to touch them. Isn’t it strange that we grieve for wounds seen piercing someone else?
Remember that Lent began Ash Wednesday. It was on February 14. It was Valentine’s Day. It was the day that was at least 6 minutes 20 seconds too long. Yet God took us through it. Our grief and wounds did not magically disappear. We walked the Way of the Cross together with the challenge: If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.
Other Witnesses On the Road
As my family prepared to leave the march, one of the volunteers approached us. She was a Women’s March representative who came all the way from Santa Barbara, CA. After asking for permission to speak to our 11-year-old daughter, she knelt down on the ground and spoke tenderly and directly to her.
You are more important and powerful than you know. You might not understand much about what is going on here today, but 10 years from now you will know and understand more.
Never let anyone tell you that because you are young your voice doesn’t matter or that you can’t do something. You have a voice and you do matter.
I am from an older generation. There is a lot that we tried to do and did. But there’s a lot that we can’t or won’t be able to do. That’s up to you and your generation.
Listen to others, especially your parents and teachers. But also listen to the voice inside of you. Decide for your yourself what is right, but check it. Ask yourself not just is this the right thing for ME, but is it the right thing that is good for everyone else?
Who rolled the boulder away to reveal Easter in the Empty Tomb for you?
Copyright 2018 Jay Cuasay