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Passiontide

In 13 Today's Church on 2016/03/13 at 12:00 AM

 

Last Sunday we began the solemn vigil of Passiontide. The violet veilscovering our statues and crucifixes, as well as the silencing of the bells in lieu of the harshness of the clacker, speak of our sadness in the face of Jesus’ impending death and provide a means of intensifying our Lenten fasting.
Today the most solemn part of our Lenten journey begins: Holy Week. This week is called holy, for throughout the course of this week we will recall, through our liturgies, the Paschal Mystery: the mystery of our Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection.
Today’s reading of the Passion provides us with a prelude to all that we will experience in the coming week as we prepare for Easter, the great feast of our salvation!One of the great lessons we learn this week is that sin has tremendous consequences.
Indeed, the death of our Lord is itself the greatest witness to the consequences of sin! Jesus Christ, who is Truth, Goodness, and Beauty Incarnate, was crucified for no better reason than Man’s intractable pride.Yet sin and its deathly consequences will not have the final word this week. No, my brothers and sisters, this is a week of victory for our Lord! As such, it is a week of hope!
This week, more than ever, we hope in our own victory over sin and death! In truth, resurrection is possible for us all, but only if we maintain our hope in Him and do our best to follow His will.
So it is that in this most solemn and holy of weeks, we are called to meditate more deeply on the great gift of self that our Lord makes to mankind. For in this great act of love on the cross, we find that our Lord is willing to go to any lengths to save us.
But as we hope in our Lord, we must remember that as Christ’s disciples we are called to enter into His Paschal Mystery with Him, imitating Him in His willingness to suffer.
St. Paul tells us that if we suffer with our Lord, we shall also be glorified with Him (cf. Rom 8:17). And so we must not only meditate on our Lord’s sufferings, my brothers and sisters; we must also take part in them, for there is no other path to Heaven.
More than any other way, it is through His passion and death that Our Lord shows us just how much He loves us. But it is not enough for us to know of His love. We must return it, “for love is repaid by love alone” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
The Gospel of John tells us that: “greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for a friend” (John 15:13). And so if we truly love our Lord and wish to show our love for Him, we must be willing to lay down our lives for Him; we must suffer with Him.
Alas, suffering is hard, is it not? We resist suffering, for it requires that we go against our own nature, which desires comfort and prefers pleasure.
Yet what we will learn from this week is that suffering, though evil in itself, can bring about such great good. And in faith we must trust that if our Lord, who is Love and Goodness, allows suffering to come into our lives, it must be for our ultimate good.
In truth, every suffering that we endure is an opportunity for us to be crucified with our Lord, if we are willing to embrace it as a gift and unite it to our Lord’s suffering in prayer.
Doing so is not only an act of the will that strengthens us in virtue, it is also an act of love by which we put to death that which is sinful within us so that Christ may live and reign within us!

This week as we meditate on all that our Lord suffered for us and because of us, let us each examine ourselves so that we may know what it is within us that must be crucified. Let us also examine our own sufferings, and with the courage that God provides, let us embrace every form of suffering that comes our way as a means to put to death our personal sinfulness so that Christ may more readily live within us.

And let us live in hope, confident that the suffering and death we witness in our Lord this week will lead us all to eternal life.

© 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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