In a pandemic, with no in-person, gathering-in-the-dark, Church services available, I suspected this Holy Week would be different—for me as well as everyone.

Holy Week was always the solemn time of leaving the world of outer concerns and choosing to walk quietly those last steps of Jesus on His earthly days. As the years went on, sparked especially by my many years of religious life, when the convent would be solemnly silent from Holy Thursday evening until Holy Saturday, my experience of Holy Week deepened and deepened. Each year there would be some deeper nuance, some new insights or spotlights on aspects of Jesus’ journey in those last days.

I longed to be a disciple at His side, walking closely with Him, watching His face, picking up His feelings, and trying to comfort Him in whatever way I could, if only by my faithful friendship and presence. There were years when I knew that I was joining MY suffering with His, and the walk was more personal and intense.

But this year was different. Early in the week, I felt I heard Him say “How long are you going to keep grieving my death? Every year you go into a week of grieving, as though somehow it was your fault. I’m not suffering now! Why don’t you come into my joy?” This message startled me and caught my attention. I’ve been pondering it all week.

So, what if Jesus is saying: “Do you know what Good Friday was/is really about? It’s not about sin. The real mystery, the real action is that I descend with you into YOUR darkness. I take your hand and I go down into the darkness of YOUR life, where you have been dying over and over—from your past hurts, confusion, despair, loneliness, abandonment. I take your hand and lead you there, through it and up out of it into new life.”

“It’s not so much the dying, though that happened and must happen for you, but it’s the passage into new life. It’s about the transition into a LIFE, a way of living, where you forgive, heal, and love your younger selves….and never betray your present self. Please stop grieving my necessary death. Embrace your necessary dying, and then I can and will take you into the wholeness of new life. COME! It’s time!”