Brennan Manning is an author, friar, priest, contemplative and speaker. Here is a quote from him that came up in one of my devotional emails this morning:
We have gotten so used to the ultimate Christian fact--Jesus naked, stripped, crucified and risen--that we no longer see it for what it is: a summons to strip ourselves of earthly cares and worldly wisdom, all desire for human praise, greediness for any kind of comfort; a readiness to stand up and be counted as peacemakers in a violent world; a willingness to let go of those pretenses that would have us believe that we really aren't worldly. Even the last rag we cling to-- the self-flattery that suggests we are being humble when we disclaim any resemblance to Jesus Christ--even that rag has to go when we stand face to face with the crucified Lord. (from The Signature of Jesus)
He also said this:
The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. (from Wikipedia website)
These hard words make all of us stop, I pray, and look at ourselves and the faith we claim to live or not to live. We are about to enter the most demanding week of Jesus’ life and, perhaps, the most demanding week for us. It is so demanding that many do not attend the services of Holy Week because they are too hard or too depressing. (Even if you choose not to worship next week, I pray you will find some resource - daily lectionary readings for Holy Week are one possibility - to contemplate and study each day.)
Our arrogance of faith surfaces when we think we already know the end of the story so; therefore, do not have to go through Holy Week. The funny thing is that we go through the movements of the week throughout our lives, for there is no resurrection without Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. What I mean by that is that we experience it in our families and cities, and see the Good Fridays going on in our world every day. It is difficult to keep walking through the raw, painful and grief-stricken experience of death. Death can come in a variety of forms: real death, but also the death of a relationship or of control we thought we had or of seeing such violence that we wonder where God is. We do not mature as Christian people without the death of things that keep us from completely relying upon God.
I invite you to fully participate next week in the journey of our Lord and to experience the love that only God can give.
In Christ’s Service,
Anne Clifton Hebert