Written by Pr. John Schwehn
As we enter Holy Week, God’s Word invites us to engage these sacred stories with our entire self, our whole body. In the liturgies of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter, God uses each and every sense to reveal the truth of this awesome mystery: Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jesus washes your feet. How does that feel on your toes and soles? Jesus offers bread and wine. How do they taste, served your way from dusty and sweaty hands at the end of a long meal?
Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb. What do you smell?
You go with the women to the grave early in the morning, before sunrise, to care for the body. It’s misty in the morning and, as you approach the tomb, you must squint to see through the fog. What do you see?
On Palm Sunday, what do you hear amidst a parade of Hosannas? Besides the shouting and singing, you would hear the hilarious braying of a donkey! And you would hear laughter, the laughter of oppressed people making a mockery of their oppressive ruler with this ridiculous pageantry. Laughter is a subversive tool for those from whom all worldly power has been taken away.
So Jesus comes riding into the city not on a big, beautiful white horse (as Caesar would do), but on a donkey! Kind of funny. But it’s here, in this laughter, that people find hope. They see Jesus as a different kind of king, who comes not in power to hurt but in love to save.
But next, we continue to tune our ears to the sounds that will follow. So many sounds – difficult, horrible sounds – will emerge from Jesus’ body, from the mocking crowds, from the nails. These are the sounds that come when the powerful seek to snuff out those who would seek to mock them, those who would claim to be the Son of God.
Until, finally, at the cross…you would hear silence.
Siblings in Christ, in the holy days that are to come, tune your ears ever more attentively to the boundless grace of God. How it makes its loudest and most hopeful sounds in the hardest moments. How, finally, not even death can stop this grace from returning, singing us home.
God of the silence,
Help us listen to the sounds of your grace. Help us to hear you in the laughter and in the silence, in the joy and in the weeping. Walk with us in our journey to the cross, and sing to us the beautiful songs of your merciful and boundless compassion.