In this guest post, JHS theology teacher Kathleen Myers encourages us to turn toward each other through her stirring reflection on the Lenten season.
By Kathleen Myers
February 26th was a beautiful spring day at Jesuit. It was a mere 57 degrees, but the sun was out and we could feel it. I stood in Hayes Plaza as students and faculty streamed out of Smith Gym and into the warmth of the sun. It was Ash Wednesday, and our Lenten journey began with a cross being gently marked on our forehead and the reminder that "you are dust, and to dust you shall return." We did not know then what our Lenten journey would be like. The threat of Covid-19 was in the news, but it would be weeks before we knew the impact it would have on us.
So much has changed. We are quarantined. Isolated. We are separated from our friends. We are separated from our family members. This is a sacrifice that we must make to protect our elders and all vulnerable people from the sickness, but it is difficult and we want this pandemic to be over. Images of overwhelmed medical teams flood our screens and news of businesses closing and the rise of unemployment leave us stunned. It is heartbreaking to see people suffering. How quickly our lives have been turned upside down.
In the midst of all this, we have questions, so many questions. How long will this go on? Will we be able to go back to school? Will we have our Encounter? Will we have Prom? Will we have a season? Will the members of my family be safe? Will I be safe? Will the medical personnel on the front lines be safe? If you have family members who have lost their jobs, the uncertainty can feel overwhelming. There is so much that we don't know. We feel anxiety, fear, sadness.
We did not know on that beautiful February day that we would find ourselves in this place by Holy Week. This is the week when Christians remember the last week of Jesus' life on Earth. We are companions of Jesus this week. We walk with him. We anticipate the Easter celebration and the renewal of our baptismal promises, but first we must walk the way of the cross.
We listen to his promise to be with us always; we accompany him in the garden as he agonizes over his fate; and we stand and watch the horror that is his way of the cross and his crucifixion. We feel powerless to stop it. Our Lenten journey has brought us here. It is not a place we would choose to go, but we are here nonetheless and are confronted with the same anxiety, fear, and sadness that Jesus' disciples felt. Where do we turn for comfort?
We turn to our brother, Jesus, who promised to be our companion. His death was not the last word. We celebrate his resurrection on Sunday and we declare that life, not death, has the last word. Jesus is present in the midst of our anxiety and fear and sadness. He said that we would encounter him in each other, and especially in those who are most vulnerable.
As you prepare to celebrate Easter, turn toward each other. Turn toward those who are most vulnerable in your midst. Embrace the life that is in you and share it. Let your family and friends experience Easter through you. Be light. Our school theme for the year speaks profoundly to us during this Holy Week: "So I'll walk in the light of the path set before me" (Tony Alonso).
While our path is uncertain, we know that we do not walk it alone. Jesus greeted his disciples in the days following his resurrection with these words: "Do not be afraid," and "Peace be with you." From the depths of my heart, I pray that you experience this Easter peace. Peace be with you.