On 1st April this year, we find ourselves in the middle of Holy Week. Today is Holy Thursday.
The ceremonies in our Churches from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday are a re-living of the last three days of Jesus on earth. We interrupt our individual life journeys to accompany Jesus suffering and dying for us. We follow Him as he leads us from the slavery of selfishness and sin to a new life of sacrificial love and service. “To joy, he calls us, not to gloom.”
Supporters of JRS are all responding to Christ’s call to serve; to accompany- walk alongside or simply be with our refugee friends. It’s an-going dying.
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday is a Celebration -a holy Passover Meal, shared originally in a “large Upper Room, furnished with couches, ”a time of warmth and intimacy. “I have longed and longed to eat this Passover meal with you before I suffer,” Jesus says.
He gives himself as the lamb needing to be sacrificed to set his people free. Then Jesus washes the feet of his friends. “This is our God, the Servant King! He calls us now to follow Him.” From the warmth of the supper room Jesus steps out with His three closest friends into the darkness. Betrayal. Arrest, Isolation and Suffering follow.
How many of our refugee friends shared a last meal with their family before beginning their journey into the darkness! They too risked betrayal, arrest, and suffering in laying down their lives for those they loved!
The truth is that our friends who decide that sacrificing all they hold most dear is a price worth paying for new life are not only replicating the passion of Jesus – he actually suffers in them and with them! He stands on trial with them, meeting hostility, rejection, isolation and mental suffering. Our friends will also rise with Him.
This truth hit me when I met someone I’d known long ago in school. She was travelling home after a prison sentence. Certainly no criminal but a committed Peace campaigner who highlighted her stand against injustice by acts of civil disobedience. Asked why she went to prison when few would know about it she’d answer, “I believe in the mystical Body of Christ”
For me, our friends’ suffering from a hostile environment is the Passion.