It’s right around this time that the apostles were beginning to have some grasp of the life to which they were called. They had been with Jesus for years, now. They had witnessed miracles; they watched people revile Jesus; chase Him; chastise Him behind his back; sneak through crowds just to touch him; climb trees just to see Him. They’d drunk the finest wine at weddings and attempted to shoo away the so-called lowliest of women at foreign water wells. Who was this man? To them, He was friend. Teacher. Beloved.
I can’t imagine what it will be like when I lose my best friend on this planet. When she rests in peace and rises in glory—if I am to be left behind just a little longer—I know that part of me will go with her. But I also know that part of her will have remained with me. I have been forever changed by the love and kindness showed through her courageous ability to be comfortable in her own skin, even though she would probably disagree about that comfortability, vehemently. When I put her loss in juxtaposition with the lamentation of the disciples’ loss, I have an inkling of the profound impact Jesus Christ, in person, would have undoubtedly imprinted on his twelve closest students and friends.
He warned them. He told them that he must be glorified, and that it must happen soon. Yet they refused to hear it; instead, they opted to sway his trajectory or simply block out the sound of salvific proclamation, due to their own impending sense of imminent loss and disparity. The imbalance that ensued would be detrimental to their immediate circumstance; they wouldn’t know where to go, what to do, or how to move forward through the enormous grief cast by the shadow of a torturous cross that framed their fearless leader’s broken body. Yet, in a moment of deep despair, they too would rise. They would become the hands and feet of a Body that defied death, looking it in the eye and proclaiming that this world wouldn’t have the final say.
As we approach Holy Week, keep in mind the past hurts, the losses of those who came before us, and the joyful work that they—and the many who went before them—left us to do. That work is tied to the original ‘sending out’. It is tied to the original Jesus movement that started over two centuries ago with a simple statement: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of humanity.” The parade is about to begin. The armies are approaching the gates of Jerusalem on either side; one of Glory, the other of death. Let us be faithful in these last days of Lent and into Easter, passionately remembering those who came before by carrying their hard-earned lessons with us. Let us take the pieces of them which remain with us and stride boldly into Jerusalem with Christ, forsaking the murmurings of a world that would have us stand down and forget our baptism.
We are the remnant. We are the next chapter in the story of the Bible. We can be Acts 3, 4, and so on. Look to the cross throughout the coming days. Keep your eyes opened to those around you who could use the Good News. Keep your hearts filled with the grace left behind for you to share with everyone around you. Remember your Baptism. Remember who you are.
And remember that everyone dies, but not everyone truly chooses to live.