As I was living the sacred days of the Paschal Triduum this year, I have been thinking of how overwhelmed people are feeling these days. It seems as if we have been brought to the edge: as a country, as a Church, and even the burning of Notre Dame has been as a kick in the gut.
Though we prefer to meditate on Jesus as the kind and gentle Shepherd, the merciful Savior, the consoling Master, Jesus actually brought his disciples into a state of “overwhelm” a number of times. Consider the storm on the lake. Jesus told the apostles to go to the other side of the lake. A sudden storm threatened to capsize the boat. Spotting Jesus walking on the water they cried out in fear. Peter, ever the courageous one, demanded to walk across the water to him. Looking down at the waves that swirled at his feet, he began to sink, crying out, “Lord, save me.” Or consider when Jesus was preaching into the evening and the apostles urged him to let the people go into the village to find something to eat. “No. You give them something to eat.” And then he offered them no instructions. “How are we going to do that?” was the immediate response of the befuddled twelve. There are any number of times when Jesus brought his apostles into “overwhelm” mode.
But Holy Thursday was a dramatic shift. With the shouts of joy and praise still in the disciples’ ears and hearts, the mood turned somber as the darkness fell. To the men who still wondered who was first, who was better, and if they were going to get something from an expected victory of Jesus over the Romans, their Lord and Master was now about to teach them truly what his life as Emmanuel was really about….