Blessed are those who are persecuted; they will find rest in the Light.(Greek) Gospel of Thomas
Holy Week begins today with Palm Sunday. It’s a day to be an observant. Jesus was.
Refreshing on the unfolding of events reminds me that it’s a good thing Jesus had those 40 days in the desert to meditate, pray, wrestle, and meditate some more before the going got really tough. Holy Week: what a grand finale to this lifetime He had. Thank God he had a practice.
What Jesus endured, in the context of what He knew was to come, is hard to believe. Tough to know what was in the pipeline, and to “do it anyway.”
Jesus had just fed thousands with a small picnic in hand and then brought Lazarus back from the dead, which were among recent events that made Him a superstar. His miraculous performances resonated, even more so than His message. I guess it’s human nature that we’ve always wanted proof.
Anyway, after that, the crowds went wild and exalted Him as King. Everyone wanted to be a part of his peace. (Well, everyone but the reigning King and his court.) So, that’s what Palm Sunday was: a big fan parade into Jerusalem, with waving palms and coats laid down at His feet, all of which had been prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus did what Zechariah 9:9 said, riding into town “lowly” and on a donkey. The donkey, the symbol of peace in the Eastern tradition, was an intentional selection, as opposed to the more aggressive suggestion of war that a horse would have brought. The ass was perfectly suited for a humble presentation.
Think about it. Jesus’ “likability” was off the charts. He was being hailed, lauded, and celebrated with an old school parade. And he continued doing the good work, all while knowing He was soon be deceived and denied by those He loved best. Oh, and then tortured to death.
That is real-life martyrdom. Not for the faint of heart…
What an observer’s mind Jesus needed on Palm Sunday! (Statement, not question.) Talk about needing to dig deep and find fortitude, drawing on every mindful technique in the book.
I wonder which kind of prayer Jesus pulled out. Gratitude? The Lord’s? Simple, straight talk, emotional style? Based on His assertive style the next day (overturning the taxpayers tables at the Temple), I’d guess there were moments of honest communication during a pretty rough week at work.
Not if, but when, you feel frustrated, furious, slightly martyred, and not able to see the way forward, here’s a reminder. Meditate on the ol’ WWJD. Or rather, on what Jesus DID do? No presentation, no denying, no pain or paralyzing panic scared Him off his fated course. Consider His mindful response: a strong example of faith, perseverance, and surrender to powerlessness in the face of the unimaginable.
Maintain presence and move in peace. One step, one breath, one moment at a time.
Thich Nhát Hánh offers us the below in Peace is Every Step.
On Conscious Breathing:
Recognize your in-breath as an in-breath, and your out-breath as an out-breath. You don’t even recite the whole sentence; you can just use two words: “In” and “Out.” This technique can help you keep your mind on your breath. As you practice, your breath will become peaceful and gentle.
As you breathe in, you say to yourself, breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. And as you breathe out say, “breathing out I know that I am breathing out.”
One step, one breath, one moment at a time.