Holy Thursday/Good Friday – Lent 2019
By: Jeanne Connolly, Director of Charism and Mission
“I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” John 13:15
Two images capture my imagination as I reflect on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The first is the image of Jesus wrapping the towel around his waist and washing the feet of his disciples. A true model of servanthood and leadership.
The second image is of Simon of Cyrene, who helped Jesus carry the cross. In the case of Simon of Cyrene, I want to know more. Did he volunteer, or as Luke writes, was he “seized?” Or as Matthew and Mark write, was he “compelled?” Was he “seized” or compelled” out of a desire to help ease the burden, or did he respond out of fear? Whatever the motivation, Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us of a man who did pick up the cross and help to carry the burden.
John’s account of the Passion states that Jesus carried the cross by himself. If he did carry the cross by himself, then I wonder where his disciples were and why they didn’t step up. Perhaps the disciples were wrapped up in their own fear and their own needs. Perhaps they believed the responsibility belonged to someone else … anyone else, but not themselves. Perhaps they felt small, insignificant, powerless, uneducated, or physically weak. Perhaps they offered to help and were turned away. Perhaps the culture discouraged helping others.
We don’t know what happened then, but every day we have the choice to pick up the cross and to help others. We have the opportunity to authentically live the way of love, just as Jesus did in his day, and as St. Francis, St. Clare, and Mother Clara Pfaender did in their day. Jesus, Francis, Clare, and Mother Clara acted based on a desire to serve God, and out of that desire, they chose to serve others. There is an authenticity and harmony between their words and actions. As a result of authentically living their call, their lives attracted and inspired others.
Fr. Dan Horan reminds us that a Franciscan way of life is rooted in lived prayer. Franciscan-hearted people “are not just people who pray, but people whose whole life serves as a prayer by their words and actions. Lived prayer is the openness to ongoing conversion that allows God to enter one’s life and transform it from the preoccupations of worldly concerns and triviality to an expression of authentic Gospel living – following Christ’s footsteps and working as God’s instrument of peace.”
As we continue the life-long process of living the way of love, let us authentically honor our call to serve with humility, deep listening, radical hospitality, profound gratitude, kindness, and trust. Let us step up like Simon of Cyrene to be the servant-leader Jesus asks us to be. Together, we will show the world that there is another way … a way of love.
Am I ready to help carry the cross and to live the way of love?
 Horan OFM, Daniel. Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith (Kindle Locations 677-678). Tau Publishing. Kindle Edition.