Today is Good Friday. At noon, my family will drive to Mt. Adams, to a hill overlooking the Ohio River. We will descend many steps, cross a bridge, and then go down many more, before reaching a landing, turning around, and going back up each step, one rosary bead at a time. I will wear a rain coat, because it always rains on us.
It is an activity I both love and dread. It is penance, good to be sure, but still humbling, as well as physically and emotionally taxing. A good hundred or so people will be there at any given time.
“The Steps” ( as we Robisons call it) is not an official prayer meeting place. The steep steps are there to connect hilly Mt. Adams to Eastern Avenue, down by the river. I am not even sure how or when people started coming here to pray, but I know my family started going when I was younger, and it is a defining moment of Triduum weekend for me. I cry every time it starts raining, at some point between noon and three. I think, God is dying. God, my Savior, is suffering death– for me!
Every Christian should have an unworthiness complex. Not a false sense: God I am so unworthy! Now, why aren’t you answering me? I’ve prayed for [this] for a week now!
But a real genuine unworthiness: Lord, I believe in you. Thank you for everything: my life, my blessings, my hardships, your Son. I don’t always understand what’s happening to me, but I trust you. I believe in you. Thy will be done.
Lent is always a good time to ponder God’s will, and I’ve been making the extra effort in my driving music. Driving home from the store last night, I heard a great song by Matt Maher called “Turn Around” – the refrain goes:
If you’re scared that you don’t matter/ If you’re lost and need to be found/ If you’re looking for a Savior/ All you gotta do is turn around// Some turn to a bottle/ Some turn to a drug/ Some turn to another’s arms/ But it seems like it’s never enough// Well I won’t say, that you will never fail again/ But there is grace/ To wash away your every sin.
This is one of the biggest messages every person, believer and doubter, should take away from Easter: your life is of of the greatest importance. You, unworthy and ungrateful wretch, matter!
You matter so much, in fact, that Jesus, “Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven; was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered death and was buried; and the third day rose again, as according to the Scriptures” (Nicene Creed).
Yep. That much.
Just as Jesus cleansed the Temple, so he cleanses and redeems our bodies, calling us forth to live in this world, but not of this world, so that we can (eventually) join him in Paradise. Jerusalem’s Temple had been under construction for 40 years, and in three days, Jesus promised to rebuild it. How about you? My temple has been under construction for 24 years, and in these next three days, Jesus will surely reinforce the foundation and pillars which give it structure.
This Easter, turn around. If you feel like “No one listens to you anymore/ And your heart has broken down/ You don’t need to move/ Love has come to you/ All you gotta do is turn around.” The Gospel of John tells of Mary Magdalene’s sorrow after discovering the body of her Lord was missing. But when Jesus spoke her name, she turned around, and that sadness turned to joy. Because after Easter Sunday, we too can boldly go out and say, “I have seen the Lord!”
All because we turned around.
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken (John 2:13-22).