by Father Mark Goldasich
Accompaniment. Culture of encounter. Synodality.
It’s rare to listen to Pope Francis and not hear him speak these words. They remind us of what it means to be a companion, literally “one who breaks bread with another.”
Over and over, the pope reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters of Jesus and one another. Because of that, we have a sacred duty to lovingly care for one another and our planet, and to listen attentively not only to spoken words but to the desires held deeply in people’s hearts.
The upcoming Triduum, the three days from Holy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday, is a special time when Christians are invited to accompany Jesus — not for his sake, but for our own. These days remind us of how intensely God loves and understands us, especially in times of sorrow, difficulty and pain.
This family story from Jim Johnson, a pastor in Longview, Texas, captures how our God encounters each of us:
In June 2001, Johnson and his son Jordan were working on their driveway, removing old asphalt with a hammer and chisel and then patching it with new asphalt. It was hard work and gradually they both became so tired that their accuracy declined. At one point, Jordan pounded his finger with the hammer. He jumped up in agony, holding back tears as he ran for ice. Realizing that no one was in the house to help him, Johnson ran after his son.
As he neared the house, the father could hear Jordan screaming in pain. He tried to calm him down and get some ice on the injured finger, but his son was having none of it.
Finally, Johnson put some ice in a bowl and filled it with water. Jordan agreed to put his hand in the bowl . . . as long as his father would put his hand in the bowl as well. So, father and son sat on the cold kitchen floor tiles with their hands in the ice water.
Occasionally, they’d take their hands out to let the feeling return to them. After 10 minutes, Jordan started to feel better and said to his dad, “I’m glad you’re here.” (Story adapted from “Easing a Child’s Pain,” found in “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” edited by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof.)
From this experience, Jim Johnson concluded, “As a pastor or even a father, I can seldom take the pain away, but my presence can somehow make it more tolerable.”
These last two years have taken a toll on everyone as we’ve navigated the pandemic and its effects. We’re burdened and exhausted — physically, emotionally and spiritually. That’s why participating in the Triduum this year is even more important for our all-around health.
Sadly, most people jump from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and skip the celebrations of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. Some folks have never attended any of them. Excuses range from “They’re too long” to “Whoever heard of going to church so many days in a row?”
How I wish our churches would be as full for the Triduum as Mass Street was in Lawrence these past few days with Jayhawk fans. And would that we’d participate with as much enthusiasm!
Let Jesus accompany you in a profound way this coming week. Make time to celebrate the Triduum at your parish. Bring to church your worries, sorrows and difficulties. While the Lord may not take your pain away, his presence will definitely make it more tolerable.
As we walk with Jesus through his passion, death and resurrection in these days, see him smile and say to you, “I’ll glad you’re here!”