“So let us spread before his feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves clothed in his grace, or rather, clothed completely in him. We who have been baptized into Christ must become the garments that we spread before him.” (From a Sermon by St. Andrew of Crete. The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume II, Lent Season and Easter Season, p.419-420).
As we begin Holy Week, we are led to ponder the thought of laying ourselves before Christ. St. Andrew of Crete’s profound words invite us to something deeper than mere ritual for the sake of itself. He urges us to the act of total self surrender. To do less, is to miss what Jesus really did during Holy Week.
In The Rule of St. Benedict, whenever he wrote about a monk making amends for faults and/or respecting his seniors, the total prostration of the body was among the requirements. Why? Because to prostrate oneself on the floor before someone we have offended is an act of complete self surrender. We gladly give up everything, including our “right’ to be right about everything. We give over being the last word about anything and/or everything for the sake of the healing of the relationship.
Holy Week is about the healing of relationships. It is about God identifying with our human condition with nothing held back. God is completely in it with us now. Including the experience of being betrayed by a dear friend, and/or having our friends whom we rely on disappear when we need them most. Yes, Jesus has lived through that too this week. Yet, the one thing that does not change is that God is there facing it with us. Therefore, we too must hold nothing back. We must lay ourselves completely before Christ as God’s people ready and willing to give up everything to and for God.
As we ponder the work of God in Christ this week, may we too be ready to lay ourselves before Jesus. May we serve others in His Name in imitation of Jesus’ example of humility and obedience to God. The greatest of contemplative experiences cannot be complete without it.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB