Holy Solitude. Good Friday: Alone Together at the Cross. "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory." (Colossians 3:3-4).
Today, you bring the fruits of the solitude you have learned about and/or practiced this Lent to the most holy days of the Christian year. Whether you've done all the practices, or haven't been able to do as many as you would have liked or haven't done any of them, God in Christ still welcomes you.
Attending the worship services of Holy Week can transform your life. The intimacy with your fellow worshippers and with Jesus through his passion (suffering) is unmatched in the rest of the Christian year. Christians sit together in shared solitude, a sense of loneliness in the midst of community, each a member of the body of Christ but simultaneously standing irreconcilably apart from Christ as he is betrayed, arrested, tried, and crucified. The congregation stands alone together, like the women at the foot of the cross.
Jesus was abandoned by his friends when he was arrested. He died alone. He freely chose this last wilderness, but he still felt the loneliness of it all, crying out on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). God was with him (God was him, in fact) and yet at the same time achingly separate.
There is something of the shadow of death in the practice of solitude. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain." (John 12:24), not denying that in its falling and dying the grain is still "single" and still alone. When we are in solitude, we open a window to death; we are choosing to be alone, in ourselves, unseen and unengaged by any other but God. Christians do not believe that death means being lost, alone, or obliterated. There will be a loss of the life we know, certainly, but also new and eternal life in Christ. There will be oneness with God, too, which perhaps we can glimpse in our moments of solitude.
To know true joy, we must know something about suffering. To know true community, we must know something about solitude. To know that we are alive, we need to breathe in the truth of death. To know and receive the resurrection, we must first face and receive the crucifixion. This Holy Week, may you be buried with Christ in his death, may you share in his resurrection, and may you be reborn with him by the Holy Spirit.
Reflection: What has been your experience of Holy Week in the past? Have you spent the week moving with Christ from his entry into Jerusalem to the Last Supper, to the cross and the grave and then to the empty tomb? What does the cross mean to you? And the resurrection?