Holy Week Monologues
This is a series of monologues that take us through the final week of Jesus life. The stories are told in the voices of women who were there. As we move from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday these stories invite us to hear anew the ancient words and see through a new lens.
Good Friday is the sixth in the seven part series.
My name is Mary. Most of you will know me as the mother of Jesus. The story I share is Jesus’ story. It is also mine and it is yours. It is a story of joy and sorrow, love and hate, freedom and oppression, hope and promise, life and death. It began 33 years ago in a stable when our baby breathed his first breath. I remember it well and I remember the moment I understood that my child’s life would be different. After the normal blessing, Simeon, the priest, did the unexpected when he turned to me and said
“this child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. A sword will pierce through your own soul also.”
Although I did not know exactly what the future would bring, I knew in my heart that it would not be easy. I stood beside my son, embraced his call and walked the road that led us to this day. At points, it has been heart breaking, at others challenging, but it has always been filled with amazing grace. He gave humanity a vision and called us all to a new way of life. He gave us hope and with it the promise that beyond the darkness there will be new life.
This vision burned in our hearts and filled our beings with possibility. Those with ears to hear and eyes to see left their places of comfort and safety and walked with him. He taught us the Divine melody and we sang “Hallelujah”!
In the words he spoke and through the way he lived, Jesus transformed lives. He opened doors to a new understanding and challenged abuse and oppression. As with all things in life, his words and actions brought consequences. People do not like change and those in power do not like to have their authority questioned. Jesus had, many times, angered the secular and religious leaders, and they wanted him silenced. On the day we approached Jerusalem for the festival of Passover, I knew in my heart that this would not be a normal celebration. Fear filled my soul. Jesus was focused and determined in a way that I had not seen before. For three years he had preached justice, love, and new life. Many listened, yet they still didn’t quite get it. When we stopped outside the city, he sent two disciples ahead to find a donkey. I suspected that he was setting the stage to make a statement that the world would not soon forget. And I was right!
In the stories of our faith it is recorded that the prophet Zechariah said
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you. He is just and endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey. Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off. He will speak peace to the nations and his dominion will be from sea to sea.”
By entering the city in this manner, all who knew the story would know what Jesus was proclaiming. By this action he was definitely pushing boundaries. I knew the consequences would be severe. He was a threat to all who sat in seats of power and they would not stand for it.
We proceeded into the city. There was an air of celebration paired with an underlying tension and a definite statement that the revolution had now begun!
From parade to temple, we had been here many times. Three years before Jesus stood in the temple and proclaimed from the book of the prophet Isaiah,
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty all those who are oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
With these words he laid out his mission and ministry. Today, though, would not be about words. The time had come for concrete action. On this day the tables would be turned and the doors opened to allow all earth’s children to enter.
The world in which we live had become something other than what had been intended. Darkness and shadows lurked around every corner and the beauty of creation had grown dim. Jesus had a vision, a dream of a different way and a new creation. Everything that he said and did was designed to bring this new world into being. His dream became my dream and that of many others. We believed he could help us to bring the vision from thought to reality.
Often times along the way, Jesus wondered if people really understood what he was trying to do. Still, he continued to share, to teach, and to touch the world. In what would be his final week of life, I think he knew the time was growing short to do what needed to be done. One can only defy power so long before power pushes back. Yet, he was committed and believed with his entire being that this dream could become a way of life and that the world could be transformed. We came to understand that it was not Jesus alone who would make this happen. It would be all of us together, living as he showed us.
When the time had come to celebrate Passover, tensions were high among us. Jesus had been creating quite a stir! There were rumblings that he had gone too far and the authorities wanted now to end his life. Those of us closest to him were worried and we did not come to this Passover meal with joy.
A room had been secured and everything prepared. We each made our way there with the heaviness of the journey and of this week resting in our souls. We entered the room and were met by Jesus who held in his hand a basin of water and a towel. He knelt before each of us, with gentleness and care, and washed the grime from our feet. In that moment, the weight of the journey was lifted and there was the sense that each of us was being consecrated and claimed. It was a simple act that spoke volumes. We would remember this in the days to come. It would remind us of how we should treat each other, and it provided the spiritual food we’d need for the living of these days.
Throughout his life Jesus drew on the power of Divine to feed his soul and give direction to his life. Whether it had been a draining day or a day filled with joy, whether he was faced with a difficult decision or a situation in need of clarification; or sometimes just because, Jesus would leave the crowds and the routine to find a place of quiet where he could tap into the energy of the universe. After the Passover meal he withdrew again to that place. In the garden, alone with his thoughts and surrounded by the holy, he poured out his fears, struggles, and uncertainties. He knew that tempers were flaring and that he had angered many. He needed strength to face whatever was coming. In the end, he walked from the garden to face his enemies. He knew that he had done what needed to be done and it was right and good.
I knew the peace that comes from being in the presence of the Divine. I knew its power and its effect upon the soul. I taught Jesus to pray just as my mother taught me and Jesus taught his followers. It is important and essential to take the time to step away from whatever is happening – to move into that space of Divine connection. In that place we can pour out all that lies in our hearts. We can unite our energy with the energy of the universe to effect change, light and love.
Let us pause in our remembering to go now to our garden – breathe deeply the breath of life. Open your mind and heart and soul to feel the spirit that moves among us.
One of the most difficult things for a mother is to see her child suffer. As much as I supported him in his decisions and stood beside him in his ministry, I longed for things to be different. I wanted to see him settled, married, with children of his own and to watch him grow old. I was so proud of him, though. He stood up for his beliefs. He spoke out, risked, and would not bow to power. He changed life for so many – the sick, the poor, the widowed, children, the rich and the privileged. He turned the world upside down.
When he left the garden, he met his enemies; he was arrested, tried and convicted amidst the angry cries. I did not want to bury my son but that is what I would have to do. Jesus, however, lit a fire that could not be extinguished.
What his enemies failed to understand was that killing him would not kill what he started. They believed that as he died so too would the dream, but love cannot be silenced.
I stood at the foot of the cross that day on Calvary’s hill and wept. When they pierced his side, the sword pierced my soul and Simeon’s words rang in my ears. Even then, Jesus spoke with gentleness and care. He treated his enemies with dignity and love. As he drew his final breath, darkness covered the land and universe cried in anguish. In that moment I could see his dream. I knew that it had been planted deep in the soil of our souls and it would not die. Beyond the darkness, there is a ray of light – Divine amazing grace.
© 2019 Rev. Valerie Peyton Kingsbury.