“Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones.” (Psalm 16:15)
I was struck by this line from today’s responsorial psalm.
You see, my family, like way too many others, has had to deal with the violent death of a very “faithful one.” My brother was killed by a neighbor who was in the midst of a post-traumatic flashback, caused by what this individual had experienced as a soldier in a war that had ended several decades before.
Horrible, sad, tragic — I know. But another line from today’s readings — the verse before the Gospel — seems to speak directly to families like mine who have experienced such harm and loss: “I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
What if we truly embraced and tried to live out these words from Scripture?
Today, our Lenten journey has brought us yet again to the Easter Triduum. As a “cradle Catholic,” I have a lifetime of memories associated with observing these holy days, and I admit there have been times that, while I’ve been physically at church, my mind has wandered. (Admit it — most of us have heard these readings so many times and we know what’s going to happen next.)
But this year, with all the suffering and violence going on in the world right now, I challenge you to really stop and listen to the readings — to all the words.
How are we being called to “love one another” in accordance with Jesus’ radical example?
Just as Christ showed mercy to those who betrayed him, denied him, and executed him, are there ways that we can love those in our lives who have caused us harm?
In my own life, the call to “love one another” has shaped how I have responded to the loss of my brother. In accepting this call, I have challenged myself to imagine all that those serving in the armed forces, including the person who took my brother’s life, are asked to do in our name. I imagine those same individuals returning to civilian life, yet carrying the burden of all they have seen and done. I have considered how they lack access to adequate mental health and support services, and how they are overrepresented on death rows nationwide. I have wondered what is society’s accountability — not only to these veterans, but also to the communities that are welcoming them home.
In so many facets of our lives and society, it seems we fall short of living out of the “love one another as I have loved you” mindset. There are so many areas that would benefit from significant structural change and healing.
Definitely some serious food for thought as we journey through the Triduum and prepare to share in the joy of the Resurrection come Easter morning.