Wednesday Word: Savior, deliver us
From pride, self-sufficiency and the unwillingness to admit our own need of your compassion; Savior, deliver us. -- Litany for the Mission of the Church
Yesterday I was at the cathedral in Baltimore for the Reaffirmation of Ordination Vows. This is an annual service done in the early days of Holy Week at dioceses across the church. For the most part it is a time for clergy to gather, to say, “Yes,” once more to this calling we have answered, and to talk with each other about the positive things happening in our various congregations and ministries.
We are in the middle of Holy Week. The Triduum begins tomorrow evening with a meal, a foot washing, an arrest, and the abandonment of Jesus. That is followed by a crucifixion, a burial, and, God-willing, a resurrection.
As I was praying this litany during the service yesterday, I was thinking about everything going on in the world and everything to come in the next few days. It seems appropriate at this time that the troubles of the world and the events to come seem to mesh together so well.
In the world, we have become polarized over every issue. There seems to be no middle ground, only my way. It appears, also, that there are no discussions between sides, only attacks, counter-attacks, name-calling, and attempts to defame and marginalize those with whom you disagree. If we follow this course of action, people on Side A will only be happy when those on Side B are eventually annihilated.
Over the next few days we are called to observe and participate in a liturgy that spans three days. During that time we also become involved in a polarizing event – the world vs. God. And in a strange twist of fate, we ourselves represent the world. For a time, we cannot abide the notion of Jesus and all that he represents, so we call for his crucifixion in an attempt to annihilate and remove him from our lives.
For a time in this three-day liturgy we suffer from pride, self-sufficiency and the unwillingness to admit our own need of Jesus' compassion.
Unfortunately it is not just these few days in which we suffer that way. Pride prevents us from having meaningful conversations and searching for consensus. Self-sufficiency causes us to ignore our need for the saving presence of Christ and feeding us the lie that everything revolves around me. And both of these harden our hearts, like those who called for his crucifixion, to the understanding that we are called to show the same compassion to others that Jesus did.
As this week and this liturgy unfolds, let us be willing to confront our own pride, challenge our desire for self-sufficiency, recognize our need for compassion, and risk being compassionate to others.