Such can be hard to do, but disciples are called to serve.
Shortly after my Presbyteral Ordination, a couple of years ago, I was feeling on top of the world when a friend of mine cautioned me: “Pierre,” he said, “remember these peaks when you go into the valleys”. For better or for worse, I soon found out that honeymoons do not last. In two years I have experienced frustration, grief, humiliation, anger and sadness, along with inner peace and joy. Such is the nature of Christian life.
So we have a new Bishop of Rome, as well as a new Archbishop of Canterbury. I am not as intimately affected by the latter, but can tell you that the election of Pope Francis has placed me and many others on top of the world once again. For anybody who wants to see change in the Roman Catholic Church this is an exciting time – but we all know the honeymoon will not last. Scribes, Pharisees and Romans are already manoeuvring to discredit the new Pope, or to downplay the prophetic nature of his actions, linking Francis to less holy ways of the past. Indeed difficult times lie ahead for he, for Justin Welby, and for the Church.
Christ knows all about such challenges. When the despairing people of Jerusalem cry out for a Messiah, Jesus becomes theirs’ for a day. But no sooner is betrayal plotted than while they are feasting together. And through vanity it thickens (men gathered for supper jockey for positions and pledge their loyalty as though words mean anything without actions). In the end, fear overcomes all; Jesus is abandoned and put to death.
Apparently, we are an insecure Church. As people of God we desperately long for a Messiah to eliminate fear and grace with unwavering hope -and sometimes despair wins. Sometimes we fail to see the salvation walking amoung us.
This week, holy week, is for Christians the reminder that we do not always see nor do we understand the obvious. The passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, memorialized by Eucharist, is the source and the summit of discipleship. These events can be a wake up call and/or a liberation. The journey of Jesus to his cross and beyond can and does transform the clueless into the conscious, the unsure into the zealous, the afraid into the courageous, and the desperate into the hopeful, but such is a journey that never ends. As they go with God through peaks and valleys believers become who they are, sharers in the life, death and resurrection of a Christ who has been there before.
Ours’ is a God who makes all things possible. From Him may we discover what it takes to do the impossible –to suffer through valleys and emerge ready, able, and willing, to serve.