in the town of Kowata
there were horses for hire
but I loved you so much
I walked barefoot all the way
–Kan’ami, Japanese Noh actor, author, and musician during the Muromachi period (approx. 1336-1573)
I’m reflecting this Holy Week that Christ’s whole path to Calvary–the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion–consisted in his loving us so much that he walked barefoot all the way.
He could have done it differently.
He could have said no, just as Mary could have said no to the angel Gabriel. But the “yes” that “registers,” bears eternal fruit, arises from total freedom–and in freedom he said yes.
He could have returned violence for violence. But though on the point of death by a from of humiliating gruesome, drawn-out, ritualized public torture–he didn’t: “Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” [Matthew 26:52].
He could have called down the powers of heaven as Judas, backed by the civic and ecclesial authority of ancient Rome–betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” [Matthew 26:53].
But he didn’t.
He could have “lorded it over” his whole life, but he didn’t: “[T]hough he was in the form of God, [Christ] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” [Philippians 2:6-8].
Last night I “attended”, via zoom, a Reconciliation service at Holy Family in South Pasadena, CA. Monsignor made the beautiful point that at its depth, sin consists not so much in breaking a law as in breaking a relationship.
What is it about truth, not factual truth but ecstatic truth, that makes us want to cry?
Several of us gathered on zoom earlier this week to share our experience, strength and hope. In addition to people from the LA area, friends from around the U.S., Ireland, Germany and Croatia were able to participate.
The time was rich. I’m still pondering and processing. “When did we see you hungry, naked, in prison, Lord?” Thank you all for ministering to me.