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Passiontide

In 13 Today's Church on 2015/03/20 at 12:00 AM

 

  • We now enter into Passiontide, the period of Lent that pays particular attention to our Lord’s divinity and His movement toward His suffering and death in Jerusalem.
  • Part of our preparation includes stricter fasting. And it is for this reason that we veil our statues and crucifixes as a means of visually fasting, thus denying ourselves even the consolations these devotional images provide us.
  • We also fast from the use of bells in the Mass, relying instead on the harsh clacker that reminds us of the hammer blows that drove the cruel nails into our Lord’s hands and feet.
  • While we are preparing for our Lord’s suffering and death, we are also preparing for His glorification! We are also preparing for the new covenant that will be ushered in by His death and resurrection.
  • So while Passiontide is a time of even greater mortification, it is also a time of great hope!
  • Throughout the course of human history, our Lord has made covenants with His people. Wesee this in the stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Unfortunately, our Lord’schosen people were unfaithful to these covenants.
  • But despite man’s infidelity, our Lord still desires to enter into a covenant with mankind. Inour first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah we hear of the new and eternal covenant that ourLord desires to make with sinful humanity.
  • Unlike the old covenant, which was written upon tablets of stone, this new covenant iswritten upon the hearts of God’s people. It is etched into our souls, and it is therefore a partof our very being.
  • Moreover, this new covenant with God, which we enter into through our baptism, is based onlove and fidelity – just as is a marriage between man and woman. It is a covenant that bindsus in a loving union with our Lord that will only be fully realized when we get to Heaven.
  • Our Lord tells us today that He will be our God, and we shall be His people. And because ofthis, we shall know Him, and He will forgive our sins and evildoing.
  • Moreover, while Jeremiah’s prophecy speaks only of the Israelites, we know that our Lord’scovenant is for all who are willing to love and fear Him. We see this in two ways in theGospel today.
  • First we are told in our Gospel story that Greeks are looking for Jesus, people of a Hellenisticrather than Jewish culture. And in response to their request, Jesus says: “The Father willhonor whoever serves me.”
  • Secondly, at the end of the Gospel Jesus states: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I willdraw everyone to myself.” So while Jesus is Jewish, He has come to save all people, andtherefore anyone can enter into a covenant with Him.
  • But in entering into this type of relationship with Christ, we must be willing to follow Him,which means that we must be willing to lose our life in this world, just as He did.
  • We must be obedient to Him and His teachings, even to the point of suffering. Jesussuffered; that’s why He came to earth. And if we are to follow Him whole-heartedly, wemust be willing to suffer also.
  • This is such an important point for us to remember as we consider the ways that our Catholicfaith is being attacked in our society and by our government.
  • Right now we are seeing only the first fruits of a persecution, but if things do not change in our society, the attacks against Holy Mother Church will intensify and become even uglier. And if they do intensify, are you ready to respond as a true Christian should?
  • Are you ready and willing to suffer for your Catholic faith as did our forefathers in those times and places in which it was illegal to be a Catholic? Are you willing to suffer and die rather than deny the truth of our faith?
  • Jesus tells us clearly today that if we wish to serve Him, we must be willing to follow Him. But let us remember that Jesus went to Calvary: the place of suffering and death. And as His followers we are called to go there too.
  • Even if we are not called to martyrdom as so many of the saints have been, there are many ways to suffer and die to self. Truly, we should see every form of suffering that enters our lives as an opportunity to share in Christ’s Passion and death.
  • What is most important is that we be willing to forget our own comfort and well being in order to follow Christ unreservedly and imitate Him in every way.
  • The little Lenten sacrifices that we are making now are meant to help us learn that form of selflessness that gives us the capacity for greater sufferings in the future.
  • But as we consider following Christ in His suffering, we must not lose sight of the hope that awaits us. For if we are called to great sufferings for the sake of Christ, we will also share in His glory!
  • We are given a hint of this glory in today’s Gospel as we hear the Father speak from Heaven.
  • With Jesus’ death on the cross comes His glorification. Christ is obedient to the Father inHis suffering and death, and thus the Father glorifies Him.
  • The great news is that as His faithful followers, we too are called to share in this glory – ifwe are willing to suffer and die to ourselves.
  • At the very least, all of us are called to die to our life of sin. We are called to crucify withinourselves all that is sinful, all that is selfish, all that is disobedient, all that is uncharitable, allthat is not of God.
  • We must root out all that keeps us from imitating Christ Himself. We must crucify and putto death all malice, all hatred, all pride, all worldliness, all that is not Christ-like if we want toshare in His glory.
  • In dying to ourselves in these ways, we will find the strength to follow Christ unreservedly –even if means we must die like one of the martyrs of old.
  • My friends, as we continue our preparations for Easter, examine yourself well. Are youwilling to follow Christ Jesus wherever He leads you, despite whatever suffering you mighthave to endure?
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you so that you may know exactly what it is within you thatneeds to die. Whatever it is – big or small – crucify it! Die to yourself and follow Christ.
  • And know that in doing so, you will eventually share in His glory. May our Lord bless and keep us all this Passiontide.

 

25 March 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

You can go directly to his homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

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