Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Lao Tzu & The Holy Week

When Lao Tzu is asked which one is the stronger: the hard or the soft things, he gives these examples: "Consider the strong big tree and the soft grass, it seems that the grass is weaker than the strong big tree, but when the hurricane comes, the strong big tree will be uprooted and fall down, while the grass is still there. Consider teeth and tongue. It seems that teeth are stronger since it is much harder than tongue and it can crush tough meat. But when the man is growing older, his teeth will fall apart and he could become toothless, but his tongue will still be there and strong." This wisdom is a great one, a gate to understand better the mystery of the Cross, the central point of the Holy Week.

The Holy Week is coming, and we are anticipating it. In this week we will learn from the passion of Jesus that when he surrenders his power as the Son of God, the powers of the world build up and show their arrogance as the stronger ones. On one hand, we can learn from the passion of Christ that when he surrenders and rejects power, he experiences betrayal from his close friend, hatred and false accusation from the Jew authority, insult from the ungraceful people, rejection by his own people, extremely painful torture and even death. On the other hand, we can see that the powers of the world prove themselves as the ones who are taking control of everything. That is why Caiaphas, the high priest says, “It is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He wants to prove to the people that he has power over Jesus. We also see from Pilate, that to safe his position and power sacrificing the innocent one is much better than to maintain justice for him.

It is easy to preach on this struggle against worldly powers. It is nice to talk about it. However, when we are actually in the middle of the struggle between self surrender to God’s plan, and the building up of the arrogant powers of the world, then, and only then, we will know how hard it is. Perhaps then we will know that to pray “Thy will be done” needs tears and even shedding of blood. And only then we will also know the dark night of the Gethsemane of our life.

This is the way of the cross. It is a painful one, but we need to know that this is the greatest secret of the Gospel: the weak becomes the strong and the strong becomes the weak. The way of the cross is a weak way, but this mysterium crucis (the mystery of corss) is the only strongest power to defeat the mysterium iniquitatis (the mystery of evil). Since the way of the cross does not lead us to the eternal destruction, but to the resurrection, the eternal victory of love, joy and life. The dark night is the blessed night, since only through the dark night we are genuinely united with God.

Let us prepare ourselves to enter the Holy Week liturgically, but also let us prepare ourselves to enter the passion of our life, whenever the Lord will it for us. Remember his word: “If you want to follow Me, take up your cross and follow Me everyday.”