Theatre of the Absurd
Reflection for Holy Week / Palm Sunday
For many of us the Liturgy of Holy Week
is part of a theatrical performance,
a Comedy of Errors that ends in a tragedy.
In fact, as we look forward to the Washing of the Feet
and representations of the Passion,
it seems, that at least once in a year
our lives begin to have a ‘religious’ flavour.
But once the drama and excitement dies down,
we go back to our daily routine,
heaving a sigh of relief that it’s all over.
Who among us who loves the theatre
would go to a play
and come away so affected, that as a result
we would be prepared to change our life-style
even if only a little?
This is the danger of turning religion into drama.
We come away discussing the merits of the performance
but hardly comment on the contents of the play.
We are emotionally stirred during the performance
but totally uncommitted after it.
Ironically, most playwrights use the medium of drama
to highlight an aspect of reality
that is often overlooked.
But many in the audience have gone to see the play
precisely – often subconsciously – to escape that very reality.
When it comes to Holy Week,
we often leave off before the end,
with the persistent notion
that we have witnessed a Tragedy.
Far more people commemorate the Lord’s death
than are present at the Easter Vigil.
An enlightened few, might choose
to pray for their departed beloved at Easter.
For so many of us these have become
events that we call to mind, memories that we refresh,
but not the “memorial” they were meant to be.
The circumference of a memorial
goes far beyond the radius of memory.
The events we commemorate basically occur in Spiritual Time,
but unfold in Chronological Time.
It is in this sense that we can understand
that Jesus died at the Last Supper
when he pronounced those sacred words:
“This is my body, given up for you.”
The kenosis, the self-emptying is complete.
By contrast, the Resurrection, though it occurs three days later,
has already been experienced as a reality in the heart of Mary
Mary is able to watch her son die on the cross
in a silence that would not be possible
unless it was rooted in the Eternal WORD
that she treasured in her heart.
She knew, though not how, that it was not the end.
Free of bitterness she is now the incarnation
of what it means to leave self behind.
Even before He is risen, she is the Mother of the Risen Lord.
In her the death-resurrection event is already a reality
if only to indicate that what we commemorate
are not events, but phenomena that exist beyond time.
May we learn to journey from history into mystery
as we experience within us the Spirit of the Risen Lord,
knowing that it is our lives that form the script
as we watch the divine drama unfold.