Holy Week with the Existentialists: Maundy Thursday – Love & Despair


Maundy Thursday – Love & Despair
Mt. 26:17-46; Mk. 14:12-52; Lk.22:7-65; Jn. 13:1-30, 18:1-11

“The silence depressed me. It wasn’t the silence of silence. It was my own silence. I knew perfectly well the cars were making a noise, and the people in them and behind the lit windows of the buildings were making a noise, and the river was making a noise, but I couldn’t hear a thing.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“In the face of this terrible and merciless sacrifice offered up to Him, God has remained silent.”
Shūsaku Endō, Silence


Meditation – Make some space to think

Jesus was loved. He knew he was loved. No wonder he was the child of God; his mother and father told him so, treated him so, and his friends too! He lived for love.

Yet here in this moonlit garden, after a final tender moment dwelling in both love and encroaching fear, he was alone. The contrast of love and despair was overwhelming. He cries to God, looking for some answer, some meaning, some glimmer of hope. There is nothing, there is silence.

The taste of bread and wine still on his trembling lips, now stung by the salt of tears. He tries to find comfort in memory, (his beautiful friends), but the warmth of intimacy is now giving way to a hollowing ache… the aching ache.

He tries to form a prayer, so far from anyone to hear. The words begin, yet once again are devoured by the hungry night. The ache consumes him, overwhelms him; cold, silent, empty, nothing.

Somewhere beneath tiring limbs lay the dream he had lived for, already caught in currents of indifference, drifting in doubt.

He remembers the bond that was once so strong, the fragile reign of something better, is it too tender to survive the storm? Like his tears, his name and his story were already drifting into the cold night’s gloom. Yet the love remained. Somehow he felt that this isolation joined with the isolation of others.. those he had met, the women, the lepers, the outcasts, the betrayed. Somehow he felt closer to them than he had ever felt before. The isolation contained it’s own solidarity. He hoped .. one last time  for rescue… release… escape.. an answer to prayer. But there was nothing; no sound, no warmth; an empty space, an ache of silence.

The end of all endings.

He lets go…


For those we know facing that same silence, the apparent indifference, and the isolation of despair; let us make spaces of solidarity.
Take time to pray, to think, to act, to weep.
Sometimes there really are no answers.
Only the ache of love.



Magneto by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds      (Gary’s path)
Stuck in the Metal by Eagles of Death Metal      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here

Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

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