Tuesday in Holy Week: Faith, Not Fear

This will be the most “normal” Holy Week we’ve had since 2019 and that’s something for which I am very grateful. It is also a Holy Week many of us are entering feeling worn out. I keep trying to figure out what the fatigue is about. We have come so far since 2020. Things have opened up. We no longer need to “pivot” as regularly as we once did. We’ve got it down more or less. Yet, somehow, the fatigue still lingers. Perhaps it’s just the residual and cumulative effects of the last few years or perhaps it’s something more. 

I have always had a hard time understanding the joy of the resurrection. On the surface, I get it. It’s a wonderful thing theologically. Death has lost its sting. Love wins. God is triumphant and a whole new world of possibility is opened for us. However, when I read the gospels and imagine what Mary Magdalene felt upon finding that empty tomb or what Mary, the mother of Jesus felt when she heard of this empty tomb, or what the disciples experienced with what I call the now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t Jesus, it’s a lot to take in.

I imagine joy and hope are part of it, but also confusion and anger, exasperation and disorientation. The world the companions of Jesus knew and the life they dedicated themselves to was inexorably changed in Jesus’ death and in his resurrection. In this empty tomb moment they were standing on a threshold between who they were and where they had been and they had no idea who they would become or what God was calling them into going forward. There is so much happening in this moment and 99% of it was completely out of their control.

Do these feelings seem familiar? I wonder if we aren’t all living in a collective experience of standing at that empty tomb, trying to reconcile who we are, where we have been, with where we are now and wondering where God is calling us. There is joy and hope here for sure but it is a lot more complicated than that. We, too, are on a threshold and we have no idea what is ahead of us. What we do know is that, like the disciples, 99% of that is beyond our control.

Of course, the thing we can control is how we respond. We can be intentional about how we enter this Holy Week and make our way to the resurrection. We can be intentional about showing up, loving our people, and holding the space for God to do what God does in these holy times. We can be intentional about remembering to stay in the present where we can witness the work God is doing in our lives and in the lives of the people with whom we minister. I think of Mary at the tomb, weeping over the loss of Jesus’ body. It is not until he calls her by name that she is brought back to the here and now where she can fully receive the Jesus standing before her. What would it be like to hear Jesus calling our names? What would it be like to hear Jesus speaking directly to us, inviting us to have faith, not fear, and to trust that God really does have this under control?

My prayer for all of us this Holy Week is for faith, not fear, and to find that place of trust in God. There is so much going on in the world that tries to erode our faith and trust, our joy and hope, but I am reminded of how light a burden this work is when we are connected to God and one another. Faith is what comes to us. Fear loses its grip. We find our way to trusting that God has got this.

The Reverend Canon Melissa McCarthy
Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Los Angeles

Shared from The Angelus online clergy newsletter
Photo by Pisit Heng on Unsplash

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