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from cheers to isolation

Today is Palm Sunday and all I can think about is how Jesus entered into this week surrounded by cheering crowds but left almost entirely alone. Jesus’ Holy Week is painfully our Holy Week during this pandemic.

We can’t ignore Jesus’ journey because we are living that rejection right now. Just a few short weeks ago, we shared a table with those we loved and now those same loved ones are dying alone in hospital beds with no one to hold their hands. We are separated from our dearest friends, the people who keep us looking toward the light. We are angry and frustrated and are starting to wonder if there is a time of resurrection coming. We have started turning inward or shouting outward because the pain is too much to bear.

We are like Jesus’ disciples once the crowd turned on him, fearful and isolated as they watch the one they thought would be king brought down by the masses.

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep, so I read a bit and then peeked in on Facebook. Right as I logged on, I saw that Palm Sunday Mass with the Pope was beginning in Rome. I settled in, finally ready to begin this week, forcing myself to begin feeling what must be felt.

Holy Week could not have come at a better time this year. Walking this week with Jesus usually brings me through a range of emotions, but this week, living and feeling these emotions is not just good religious practice, it is necessary. Letting the anger and pain and anguish wash over us is necessary. It is the only way we get through to the resurrection. Feeling our feelings while journeying with Jesus is our path to Easter. In this week, we will hurt and cry and weep for the pain, but we will also find that we are never truly alone. Jesus is with us, both deep in our souls and in the little glimpses of love we see around us.

That love may be harder to recognize since we’re not by each other’s sides right now, but it is there. We can see it in the gracious care our health care workers are providing the sick. We watch as those caring for the homeless continue their essential work of feeding the hungry. We witness those serving asylum seekers at the border and serving domestic violence victims still fighting for the terrified people forced to flee their homes in this time where home should be safest.

Love is out there, pouring out of us in all of the ways we need it to be. Walk this week and remember, God is still with us.

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