This week heralds the most holy week for the Christian calendar; it spells the hours leading to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a central figure in human history. It is a solemn period full of symbolism and outward signs of penitence, fasting, alms giving and personal surrender.
About the same time last year, on Good Friday, I had joined my local faithful in enacting the tribulations of Jesus Christ from the courtroom to the crucifixion grounds. We Catholics call it the Way of the Cross. We were a big crowd of about 1500-2000 people and our snaking way of the cross route took us across the town.
As the faithful continued with the way of the cross along the town streets, people on their routine duties too time to look at this group of Christians and after a minute or two lost interest and continued with their routine and chores. We plodded on and on rounding a corner, I could not help noticing a stranger along our path. He was a big man, rough, bearded craggy face and clad in dirty Jeans and black shirt. He was casually leaning on a post with a smoking cigarette dangling from his lips; shamelessly, he kept looking around as if waiting for anything to happen. By his dress and looks, he easily passed off as a kind of person you would not be comfortable meeting alone in any alley day or night.
My mind, silently labelled him as “Ruffian”.
As the way of the Cross adherents snaked by singing loudly, the Ruffian, straightened up, removed his cap, and in the same motion also removed the dangling cigarette from his mouth and stubbed it using his fingers. The ruffian then lowered his head down as a show of respect and surprisingly made a perfect sign of the cross as our entourage passed.
It was enough for me. The quest of God cannot be hidden; it rises deep from the lowest depth of the soul.
It rose for this ruffian.