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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.

Christopher Mendonca


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