Because this story is so raw, I have a tendency to withdraw and consider Jesus’ suffering from afar. I put Jesus on a pedestal and become mere spectator to some cosmic drama between good and evil that only Jesus is involved in. I forget Jesus spent most of his ministry telling me who I am, telling me how to grow into that spark of divine life embedded in me. The passion narrative takes on a different meaning for me if I start with the question Who Am I?   What it is like to act out of this spark of divine life in the midst of the circumstances of life I find myself in? In this evening of many readings, let’s simply see what questions arise when we see how divine life embedded in human form behaves.

Tracing Authentic Life

Have you ever been loved and respected for superficial reasons? Have people waved palms at you because of what you hope you will do or be for them. Part of us loves this, and we sacrifice who we are to get more of it. The authentic part of us that is connected to the Ground of Being is unmoved. This part of us can ride a donkey and turn all this superficial energy into a prophetic sign of humility.

Have you ever been through a struggle and really needed your friends and family? Have you ever been vulnerable enough to specifically ask your loved ones for support and they could not deliver. Like the disciples in the garden your friends feel asleep when you needed them. The life in touch with the divine spark tells the truth to his friends but does not lash out. The authentic life does not pass on the injury.

Have you ever been betrayed? For love, for money, for a job? Have you ever had another deny you like Peter did? The authentic life receives the betrayal and the denial without violence, without judgment. The injury stops. It is not passed on.

Have you ever felt utterly forsaken, even by God? Have you ever felt like you have no control, you cannot fix it, you cannot explain it, you cannot understand it? At these times there is absolutely nothing to hide behind. Yet part of you is still there, part of you is real enough to name the feeling, part of you is not diminished, part of you knows to keep faithful. Part of you can still forgive knowing the haters do not know what they are doing. Part of you can still comfort the prisoner on the cross next to you by saying today you will be with me in paradise. Part of you will not project the pain of forsakenness onto others.

I, of course, cannot ask, have you ever died? Death is unfathomable. James Finley writes that the Cross is such a powerful image because death is something we do utterly alone. He says our family can hover around those last hours and even climb into bed with us. While we may treasure the love and comfort, when the moment of death comes we face it alone with no help and none of our stuff. The Cross stands as a monument to the truth that the moment of our greatest transformation to new life is the moment when our true self is our only self.

Who am I? May this Eucharist help us recognize that the same self that faces the unfathomable and the unknowable is here now in us, to transform how we live in the circumstances of life we find ourselves – to face good times and bad, false admiration, betrayal, forsakenness, joy, success and failure. May we help each other act more and more out of our Ground of Being in all the circumstances of daily life in which we find ourselves.


George von Stamwitz

Sts. Clare & Francis Ecumenical Catholic Community

Liturgy for Palm Sunday

Saturday Evening, April 12, 2014

Focus Text: The Passion According to Matthew

Photo by Miguel Ramirez on