By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.
As I reflect on the Gospel passages of these past two weeks and look to Palm Sunday and Holy Week, I see Jesus as presented as a lonely figure. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is shown confronting his critics by himself. If his disciples are present, they are not in evidence.
Then we come to the familiar story of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Again, he seems to be so much alone. He is with his disciples at the Last Supper, but then they seem to run away and hide. Peter, when challenged, denies that he knows Jesus.
Many thoughts and images come to mind as we follow the liturgy of Holy Week, starting with the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday. What is stirred in any of us as we again encounter the familiar story?
What occurs to me is the perceived loneliness of anyone who suffers. When there is sadness, or depression, or severe illness, or a serious accident, the feeling within us might be “no one else can really understand what I am experiencing.” The first thing that we might recall is that, yes, there are lots of people suffering similar things. We can be with them in spirit. A proper part of our response to this condition is to reach out, somehow, to others.
And, in terms of our life of faith, we can reflect on that lonely figure of Christ who suffered so much and who is somehow with us. He leads us through all our experiences to Resurrection and new life. Suffering is hard because we feel alone and not in control. We reach out to the One who “emptied himself,” became a part of us, and who walks with us on the journey.