It’s Holy Week for Christians in the Western Church (Eastern Orthodox churches use a different calendar, so Easter for them is much later this year). This year, I thought I would share some reflections about Jesus at his crucifixion. These come from a journal entry after I returned from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2022, and they seem particularly apropos, given the war in Gaza.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, did he ponder all he had not been able to do? Did he wonder if things might have been different if he’d had a chance to talk individually with the people who taunted him as he hung there?

As he struggled to breathe on the cross, did he wonder: “What if I’d had more time? What if I’d come down to Jerusalem more often? What if I’d been more pushy, more brazen with my message of love?”

Did he grieve the hard-heartedness of souls who could taunt him when he was down, or did he recognize how desperately they were seeking to bring themselves up by doing so?

Once again, I’m confronted with my vast limitations. Because of pilgrimage, I now have a window into lives halfway across the world that I cannot help, cannot save, can hardly influence, and most likely will never see again. They do not know or care about me. It brings such grief, and I am barely able to sense why…but it’s huge. Maybe this is why St. Francis walked the streets grieving. I want to hug the whole world.

As war continues in the Holy Land, and more innocent civilians continue to be killed, my grief expands to encompass every soul injured or killed (on both sides), every livelihood ruined, every home demolished, every sacred trust violated.

I still want, somehow, to hug the whole world. I wonder if Jesus did too.

I invite you to take these questions and wonderings into the days ahead, regardless of whether you observe Holy Week. What griefs are you holding these days?

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