The truth isn’t that we’re approaching Holy Week here, but rather that these roads, these parts, resemble a perpetual Good Friday. Christ makes the climb to Golgotha in the person of every poor and abandoned brother, of everybody who feels poor and exploited by an absurd world that he doesn’t understand. Imagine, my people’s dream is very simple. They say here that the first words that a child learns are ‘‘New York’’ or, as they say, ‘‘Nueba Yol’’. It’s a shame that these poor people imagine paradise in this fashion.
And what will we do in Holy Week? I invite you truly to live it. Holy Week isn’t ‘‘Holy Week vacation’’. It’s the most beautiful week of the year, the one that distills all of God’s love for man. Unlike us, God has given not of his excess but rather all that he had to sustain him: his beloved Son. Behold how much God has loved us! ‘‘For us and our salvation’’ he has given up his only-begotten Son on the cross.Saint Teresa of Jesus used to tell her novices, when they asked her to teach them how to pray: ‘‘ I am not asking you to do anything more than to look at him.’’⁴ That’s what the Church asks of us all: that we look at him, contemplate him, crucified, with a gaze from the heart. ‘‘They shall look on him whom they have pierced’’ ( Jn 19:37). The nails, the lance, the crown of thorns, the gall, the wood of the cross, the marks of an ignominious death, the death of an innocent, of the only innocent. Christ who dies for you, loving you and forgiving you.
My friends, you can’t go from the beach to the rites of Holy Week, or from après-ski to whatever church is handy, and purport to have lived the Easter of Christ. Who are we kidding? Isn’t this ridiculing and mocking the flagellated, crucified Christ? There, over there, is the naked Christ on Good Friday, and here am I soaking up the sun, only to run out in the afternoon to go to church?
The Church is complicit in her cowardly silence, in not having said anything, in keeping quiet except to say that one thing is compatible with the other. I don’t want to be an accomplice to this scandal. We hold our head in our hands, saying like the Pharisees how bad people are, when we ourselves show not the slightest sign of credibility. How is anybody going to believe us if we’re the first unbelievers, living in this absurd contradiction?
If the cane became a candle
The via crucis I was telling you about at the beginning of this letter isn’t a road without an end. It leads from Golgotha to the glory of the Resurrection. Although it’s true that the Passion of Christ is relived every day in these canefields from the break of day on, it’s much truer evangelistically that the victory of Easter manifests itself in these fields every day, and you—with your prayers, your sacrifices, and your economic support—are making it possible.
How many stories of redemption could be told by these rows and rows of cane! Yes, friends. The Church is present here in this forgotten, isolated part of the earth, to convert this calvary of cane into a candle of glory. Yes, brothers. Here charity, the limitless desire that beats in the heart of every missionary, to the point of willingness to give his life if necessary, makes it possible for the cane of Good Friday to become the tall paschal candle of the Sunday of Resurrection.
How many signs of the victory of the risen Christ I have the privilege of seeing, every day, in the midst of the appalling horror of the poverty and misery of these people! The laughter of so many children, inexhaustible in the imaginary games they play with nonexistent toys. The rejoicing in the campos and bateyes every time another child is born. The number of wonderful families who, though they live in poverty and have a good many children of their own, also have what it takes to adopt other children whose young parents have died. I think of the joy of so many hundreds of people, of all kinds, to whom it seems like the most normal thing in the world to walk five or six miles, with children on their backs and shoes in their hands—their only pair of shoes—to go to Mass. How can Christ not have risen, how could the Lord not have been resurrected, when there are so many gestures of heroic love that move even the hardest hearts.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice. Alleluia.
For He, whom thou wast worthy to bear. Alleluia.
Has risen as He said. Alleluia.
Pray for us to God. Alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary. Alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, Alleluia.
Let us pray
O God, Who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast been pleased to give joy to the whole world, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Excerpted from “Slaves in Paradise” by Jesús García