This post is based on Week Seven of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure.
This is a painful week in the Spiritual Exercises as I accompany Jesus in his final hours. In entering the Gospel passages of the Passion, I place myself in the scenes as an onlooker and witness a man who is betrayed, arrested, and unjustly sentenced. He is spat on, jeered at, slapped, mocked, tortured, and condemned to a brutal, drawn-out death. The pain in my heart is palpable as I watch Jesus, the man whom I have come to know and love more deeply, die.
I am reminded of those times that I have been “one of the crowd,” going along with the common sentiment, rather than standing up for what I know in my heart is right and just. And I am reminded of the times that I have remained silent, paralyzed in fear, when called to speak up in truth and to reach out in compassion and tenderness. At times, I have joined with Peter in weeping bitterly, feeling shame and remorse. I pray for forgiveness and deeper compassion.
And then, amidst all the pain and suffering, there is a moment of grace—a beautiful gift from God, an answer to prayer, which calms my troubled and saddened heart. My heart recognizes a moment in my history when I experienced the power of sacrificial love, which lasted to the end and provided me the opportunity to experience such deep and profound compassion.
I was at the bedside, together with my mum and dad, brothers and sister, when both of my grandparents on my mother’s side died. They spent their last days in palliative care as their bodies slowly shut down. In this time of pain and suffering, there was so much love and compassion. As we “walked” alongside and witnessed our beloved family members dying, we remained present and loving—talking to them, holding their hands, caressing their cheeks, placing liquid in their mouths, and stroking their arms. We loved them to the end. And we continue to love them though they’re no longer here with us in body.
My heart is filled with hope and promise as I look ahead to the resurrected Jesus, who demonstrates that death, pain, and violence do not have the final say. It is love that endures and overcomes all.
As I await the coming of the resurrected Jesus, I pray that I can grow in love that gives to the end, and I pray for the compassion to walk alongside others who are so in need of this love.