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Staying With Jesus Every Day

Deb Heimel, Pastoral CouncilDeb Heimel, Pastoral Council Member
March 31, 2024

Welcome and thank you to everyone joining in celebration at the Paulist Center this week! Holy Week and Easter are the essence of our Catholic Christian faith and personally, these days are my favorite time of year. I know Easter Sunday is the triumphant resurrection, but over the years I have come to appreciate the days of Holy Week the most.

For me, solemnity means sitting in the truth and emotion of an experience and it is my craving for the solemn that draws me to the Triduum. I attend the 3:00 service on Good Friday every year because I need the time to be present with the reality of the crucifixion – to feel the suffering, and grief, and anxiety.

For many years on Good Friday I have re-visited a poem by Scott Surrency O.F.M. because it calls me to reflect on the truth of a Catholic Christian life. The introduction to the poem offers that “Triduum gives us the space to find Jesus walking with us, too — in our quiet sufferings, lingering griefs, and anxieties about the future. There is new life at Easter — just as there is new life at the far end of pain — but on Good Friday, we do well to stay with Jesus.”

Staying with Jesus means being present in the pain and fear and uncertainty of life. We are called to do this for each other every day, and throughout this Lenten season, we are reminded of how hard it truly is and how transformative it is. We may not be deciding whether we will stay at the foot of the cross, but we do decide how to be present for the people in our lives. Every day we make decisions about how to sit with a friend going through chemo or hold a loved one while they grieve.

In her book “Take This Bread: A Radical Communion,” Sara Miles asks a gay friend of hers how he has stayed with Christianity when so many want to kick him out. He replies, “Honey, I know who my Shepherd is.” I laughed when I read this because I could hear friends of mine saying the same thing. But the line resonated deeply and continues to resonate to this day. That phrase has come into my head countless times over the years as I struggle with decisions or actions of people in church leadership, whether locally or in the Vatican. I appreciate worshipping at the Paulist Center because I know many people here are open about this same challenge – and are willing to hold the tension of it: the tension between our human failings and the world Jesus calls us to. We do well to stay with Jesus.

Is it easier for us to stay with Jesus on Good Friday because we know Easter is coming? Are we willing to feel the fear and uncertainty of the crucifixion only because we know the ending? We don’t stay with Jesus in Good Friday; we move with Him into Easter. We experience grief and uncertainty – and also Love.

Sitting in the truth and emotion of life also means embracing the joy. Even when we are in the hard times, Love is present. When we don’t know the outcome, Love sits with us through it all.

I know we are all experiencing uncertainty and grief in so many ways in this world and I hope you have found something in our celebrations this weekend to renew your witness, wherever that is. We are all trying to focus on the life and call of Jesus and to do so with support and challenge from each other as fellow Christians. Love is our guide. We do well to stay with Jesus every day.