Our holiest of days next week is like the unholiest of a family’s yearly obligatory, optional dinner gathering. It’s obligatory because it’s family, it’s optional but they’ll talk about you if you don’t show up. (“And, bring a casserole to pass!”) Let the drama begin.
There’s the talkative aunt, thrice married and now dating. There’s that prodigal son with his now, new fourth investment venture that “Can’t miss”. There’s the quiet mother preparing supper and listening to the stories of others, no one asking her about hers. In the corner of the living room is the baffled college-age daughter, excellent grades, but wondering whether to remain a Catholic or not. Dad’s seated in his favorite chair watching all the excitement around him. Jokes are told that have been told every year. Conversations rise louder in equal proportion to the alcohol. Dad’s tired from his day’s work but happy to, again, gather them all together. Children are running around the house wondering why all those old folks are interrupting their supper. Mom told them that it’s a special night, once a year, every year.
Once a year we gather together all the characters that make up our dramatic Christian drama. We think there’s a central character, Jesus Christ. Yet, he’s surrounded next week by all kinds of sorts. There’s that guy running to the ER with a missing ear. Those folks around the fire asking Peter to declare a faith he has yet to own. Then there’s that guy with clean hands ignoring responsibility and setting Anthony Quinn free. And, how about that unbelieving guy with a sword at the end of our story who becomes a believer? Of course, our drama would not be complete without the guy who proudly accepts thirty pieces when he could have easily gotten fifty. (Lacking in belief and poor in business.) Like those jokes from relatives, we hear words we only hear once a year – Kidron valley, scabbard, Caiaphas, praetoriam, tethered, Stone Pavement, and the worst of all, but the most beautiful is: “Golgatha.”
It’s family. During our lives, we can be all the characters in our Christian drama. When we finally come to our humble and worthy senses, then we can all turn to Golgatha, that place of transformation. That place when we finally connect and unite our earthly lives to our heavenly life in God. That’s family…and that’s a meal worth celebrating.
So, take your palm and wave them away in the parking lot. Next week we get to gather together again that biblical family for a renewing adventure – but it is no longer their adventure in faith; theirs’ is done, but it is ours, our very own faith adventure; within this exact time and within this very place.
(walking away, I return to say,) Oh, I almost forgot. Don’t forget the name Mary Magdalene…next Sunday, she gets dessert first.