by Holly O’Hara, Communication Director at PBMR
Recently, I heard this statement at Mass: “The Passion leads to the Glory of the Resurrection.” Hearing it, I was surprisingly shaken. I wondered if this is really true. Does our passion, our suffering, really lead to a resurrection?
Some days here at PBMR, it doesn’t feel like it. At times it’s hard to find hope amidst the suffering and injustice that envelops our youth, families, and neighbors. Some days, it just feels like passion after passion with no clear resurrection in sight. But every time I get to this place of darkness and desolation, God always greets me there, holds me close, and brings me an unexpected radiant light, a renewed hope lifting me from my darkness.
A couple of weeks ago, Sr. Donna invited me to deliver some gift cards to a mother in our community. Grateful for the break from my office and growing to-do list, I accompanied her to the house of one of our youth and his mother. I had heard a great deal about his mom, but this would be the first time I’d get to meet her. As she opened the door, we were greeted with warm hugs and words of welcome. She invited us into her home and introduced us to her children, grandchildren, and others who live under her roof and care. I instantly felt enveloped by the love that flowed through the house, and that emanated from the tiny yet mighty woman standing before me.
As she took us through her house, she shared about some of the struggles she and her sons have endured over the years—children incarcerated, deceased, and impacted by violence in the streets. As she invited us downstairs into the basement, I was introduced to her son—a young man around my age, paralyzed from the waist down after being shot two years ago. Sitting with him, my heart ached as I listened to the rollercoaster these past two years have been. His mom explained that it was just her and her sons for years, but that they always knew they would be okay because they were together. “We always had each other through it all.” Through the pain and suffering, there was a strong undercurrent of faith, hope, and deep love burning bright between mother and children. As I sat on a box in that basement, a light of hope flickered in the darkness.
Driving home that night, I was pretty overwhelmed. I could feel my heart bursting with an overabundance of joy and sorrow. I thought about how tempting it would be to not feel this pain and sorrow that I now feel for this family who suffers so greatly, and in not feeling their sorrow, not grappling with my call to do what I can to care for them. But to block out the sorrow and the responsibility, to shy away from the passion, would be to block out the divine joy of being in relationship, and to block out the light of hope that I found in our togetherness. I realized that growing in relationship means taking up this cup of joy and sorrow; embracing the passion to find a resurrection. Meeting our neighbors, growing in relationship with them, feeling their pain, and uniting ourselves to their well-being transforms us. Because now that I know you, I love you, and I care about what happens to you. Now that I know you, I am with you to confront whatever comes our way, together.
I guess the first step to resurrection is allowing ourselves to see, feel, and experience the Passion—opening ourselves to the sorrows that surround us, and discovering how God is bringing new life and love into the most unlikely of spaces. Jesus’ heart was pierced by a lance—blood and water spilled out—and from that passion, the resurrection followed. So what happens when I allow my heart to be pierced by the sorrows that surround me? Inevitably, it will hurt, and it will likely end my life as I know it, but the love and community that will be born in the most desolate of spaces will shine radiantly like the Easter sun.
Every day, I just pray for the grace to open my heart to the people around me—to draw near to their joy and sorrows alike. To love with arms wide open, unafraid, radically available. People are in pain and suffering whether we look or not, but when we choose to draw near to those who suffer, they no longer suffer alone, and that can change everything. Now we are in it together, and now, at least, we have each other.
There is great hope in knowing that we are not alone and we always have each other, even in our darkest moments. When we stay together through our times of passion, flames of love and community flicker through the darkness and renew our hope in the promised Resurrection.