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A Holy Saturday Reflection

April 3, 2021
A view from a church ruins in Ireland…

As the sun rose on this holy Saturday, a day of watching and waiting for those of us with 2,000+ years of knowledge, I wonder what the disciples were thinking… I wonder what the women who had stayed to the bitter end at the cross were thinking…. This must have been a day unlike any other day they had experienced during the three years they had been with Jesus.

Today I have been sitting in the sunshine since Pixie wanted to enjoy the sunshine on the deck. I’ll admit that I have also been procrastinating a bit. I have a final paper to write for class that is due on the 21st. The subject, like the class, isn’t exactly appealing to me. A 7,000 word essay on my theology of religions which is supposed to have been inspired by the class readings and discussions. Needless to say, I would rather be sitting in the sunshine with Pixie and Denise, reading Merton and enjoying the peace and quiet of a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The view from our deck…
HRH Pixie soaking up the sun…

Back to my musings about this day from so long ago… This time, this pregnant pause, in the midst of the Triduum is a time of waiting, wondering, and reflecting. It is also a time of last-minute preparations for Easter Sunday if you are a pastor. As I reflect on what may have been going through my mind if I had been with the women or with the disciples a thought came to mind. Remembering the command of Jesus to love your neighbor… every neighbor… yes, even your enemies… to pray for those who persecute you…. It sounded great in theory, but now in the wake of the horrific experience of Friday, love them? Really?

There are days when I sometimes struggle to love myself, Lord; let alone love my enemies. As I continued my journey through Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation (Chapter 10–A Body of Broken Bones) last night, these words stuck with me and I re-read them again today. Hatred tries to cure disunion by annihilating those who are not united with us. It seeks peace by the elimination of everybody else but ourselves… The plainest summary of all the natural law is: to treat other men as if they were men. Not to act as if I alone were a man, and every other human were an animal or a piece of furniture… I cannot treat other men a men unless I have compassion for them… I must learn to share with others their joys, their sufferings, their ideas, their needs, their desires. I must learn to do this not only in cases of those who are of the same class, the same profession, the same race, the same nation as myself, but when men who suffer belong to other groups, even to groups that are regarded as hostile. If I do this, I obey God. If I refuse to do it, I disobey Him. It is not therefore a matter left open to subjective caprice. (pp. 75, 76, 77)

While Merton doesn’t answer my question as I sit with the women and the disciples, it does challenge my predisposition to fear and hatred which is sadly a part of the human condition. One of the many gifts and challenges that rose out of Merton’s prayer and contemplation was to encourage thinking outside of the box. He was adamantly anti-war while many in the church hierarchy supported the bombing of Vietnam and the nuclear arms race, questioning the loyalty of any who did not support those views. I believe that this is the sort of radical love that Jesus is calling us to share with others, enemies included.

So, on this Holy Saturday, a day of waiting I wonder as I sit with the women and the disciples. Love your enemies… pray for those who persecute you… Jesus, your commandment is not always easy… but we must love… as Merton said on page 78-79, …and yet you can be entirely out of the world while remaining in the midst of it, if you let God set you free from your own selfishness and if you live for love alone.

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