Holy Week and Easter form the heart of the Christian year, and they remember, observe, and celebrate the heart of the life and meaning of Jesus Christ. And what these Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter reveal to be at the heart of Christ is, it seems to me, this: vulnerability.
Maundy Thursday, during which we remember the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples, reveals Christ making himself vulnerable by offering to us his very life through the mystery of Communion or Eucharist. The life of Christ, the spiritual energy of the Lord, is made available to us in the blessed bread and wine. For me, this is the true pouring out of Christ’s life for us and for the world: that Jesus pours out his life in order to make all that he is available to us. His willingness to make himself vulnerable in this way empowers us to similarly offer ourselves for others, embodying the “new commandment” that is also remembered on Maundy Thursday, that we should love one another as Christ loves us.
The crucifixion of Jesus, remembered on Good Friday, is the most profound example of Christ’s vulnerability. Jesus voluntarily enters the vulnerable space created by the twisted machinations of powerful people. In so doing, he offers up his life for us. Not in the sense of sacrificing himself to a demanding God, but in the sense that in voluntarily stepping into that place of utmost vulnerability, Jesus shows us who we are when we are at our worst, when we live only from a place of ego and fear rather than from a place centered in God. Jesus becomes the willing, innocent victim — an icon of all the unwilling victims human beings constantly create — in order to show us that we do not need to be run by fear, victimizing, and scapegoating.
The Resurrection shows us that by voluntarily inhabiting the vulnerable place of the victim, Jesus unleashes a power that is greater than death, and by so doing unmasks death as a paper tiger, as something which we do not have to fear. Our lives do not have to be lived in the shadow of death and the fear which it engenders in us. Instead, we see in the Risen Christ that God is a God of life, not death, and that ultimately nothing can take this life away from us.
In Christ, we see that when we open ourselves to vulnerability, we open ourselves to the power and life of God. This power of God is not a power which glorifies and dominates, but a power of deep connection to our true self, to God, to other, and to all of creation, a power that leads to service and compassion, a power that is ultimately not about “me” but about “us” as a human family.
As we move through these next days and finally arrive at the celebration of Easter, may we allow Christ to lead us into vulnerability, that we may discover the deep life, power, and love of God.