“Were you there?” This heart-piercing African-American spiritual asks the inescapable question. For Jesus’ journey to Calvary is the journey of every human heart. St. Ignatius asks an implicit, deeper question: “Who are you in this story?” This is not just an historical drama about Jesus suffering then but a Paschal mystery enacted today on our world stage.

Were you there at the kiss of Judas or when he despaired of ever being forgiven? Were you there with Caiaphas and his priests plying the bribe, trampling the truth? Or with the slumbering apostles insensitive to the agony of a friend a few feet away? With Peter willing to defend with a sword but unwilling to stand with his unarmed Lord? With Pilate acquiescing to the mob? With the mocking soldiers?

Or were you there with the Magdalene and other faithful women or with Joseph of Arimathea? We’re all there in this divine love story, but where?

—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. He blogs weekly at  www.heartoheart.org/Lent