“He’s just not that into you!” Wasn’t that a title of a popular book a few years ago? I never read it but according to talk shows it was a blunt awakening intended to let folks know that if they’re being strung along by a hoped for love, with no commitment—the reality probably is, “he’s just not that into you.”
So even though the crowd on Palm Sunday came singing “Hosannas” and proclaiming him “King”, Jesus realized what they wanted of a Messiah was not what he had come to fulfill. To give them a glimpse of that, instead of entering Jerusalem on a regal horse or camel, he rides humbly into town on an ass. He knew whoever they were into, wasn’t really him.
To call the rest of the week a roller coaster ride is to trivialize the depths, gargantuan pits, that he endured or the celestial elevation that followed. Jesus “reclined” for Passover with his companions and gave them his body and blood to continue to nurture them long after he was gone. One of them left to betray him. The others drank too much and didn’t understand him.
They took the steps down into the city and out a gate up to the Mount of Olives. He chose the three that had been there on another mountain top to stay close by while he prayed for the “cup to pass; but not my will but thine be done”. Then he turned around to find them passed out, not just once. How his heart must have ached to be so alone!
Then the guards came, a friend betrayed him with a kiss, and the others ran.
Volleying him back and forth between the religious authorities, Pontius Pilate and Herod, the injustice, brutality, futility and misunderstanding must have been so inhuman. And at a short distance the man he had, and was, to entrust to lead his legacy was denying him repeatedly. How abandoned he was!
The pain of carrying the timbers that were his cross, the agony of seeing his mother’s sorrow, the kindness of Veronica, the forced assistance of Simon, weeping women must have been so overwhelming! Yet he stops to encourage his mother, thank Veronica, ask the women to redirect their sorrow to themselves and their children, and even from the cross begs his father to forgive his tormentors, entrusts John and Mary, his mother, to take care of one another. Stripped, laid bare, humiliated, with arms wide open, nailed to the cross he lets go and surrenders his “spirit into Your hands”.
Once again wrapped in swaddling cloths he was back in a cave like the one he was born in three decades before. And three days, (which Jewish practice then said confirmed death), three days later the women arrive to find him gone. You know the rest of the story, forty more days of encounters with the risen Jesus: from Mary’s “Rabbi”, the apostles gathered in the upper room, the two walking to Emmaus, doubting Thomas, a beachfront barbeque, with “as many as 500”, and more.
Jesus immersed himself into the depths of our human experience! And he showed us that even the worst of it can be redeemed! He taught us how to be companions, to be compassionate and to entrust ourselves into communion with God. So we, as Ignatian Volunteers, companion those in need, break bread together and encourage one another to surrender as Jesus did.
Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human. Henri Nouwen To live, and die, and rise again as Jesus did!
Jesus is into you! All in! Let’s be genuinely “into” those we encounter. “He is more within us than we are ourselves.” St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Linda Wihl is the Greater Cincinnati IVC Regional Director (or as some of the volunteers call her, “the matchmaker”). As the Executive Director of Making Sense of Language Arts, she is also a service site partner and sponsor. Her favorite title is “grandma!”