Friday, April 18, 2014

Come Sit With Me

Readings for April 18/ Good Friday:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42

September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. I’ll always remember that random fact because it was also the day that one of my favorite bands’ new album was to be released. I didn’t have time to get it before school that morning so I decided to go right after getting home from school. When I got home my mom was watching the news update on the attacks and she said, “Brent, come sit down and watch this with me.” I told her I would but first I had to run to the store to buy a CD. She said a bit more forcefully, “Brent, come sit down.” “Mom, I’m just gonna run to the store I’ll be back in like 15 minutes,” I replied and walked out the door. I knew the story of what was happening, but I didn’t grasp the full implications of it.

Today Mother Church says to each of us ‘Come sit down and watch this with me’ as we hear again the story of the Crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus. The story we come to hear is far more significant than that of September 11 because it has consequences for every person throughout all time and even into eternity. Many fail to take the time to stop and listen, but if we do come and sit with our mother we are able to deepen our understanding of those events that took place 2000 years ago and yet take place again today. We learn our story – the story of the Cross.

The story of the Cross is a story of apparent contradictions. This shouldn’t surprise us since the whole life of Jesus is characterized by such. A God who takes on human flesh, a king born in a stable, one possessing riches unending is born poor and homeless, the Almighty God is helpless in the arms of His mother. Those are just a few of the images that come to mind, but if we look at the Passion of the Lord these images increase in frequency and intensity. The faithful Bridegroom of the Church is betrayed with a kiss. He who frees us from slavery to sin and death is bound in chains. The King of all creation is crowned with thorns. The Word of God stands silent before His accusers. The Innocent Lamb is made sin for us and sacrificed. He whose hands healed the blind is blindfolded and slapped in the face. He who wrapped the heavens in clouds is wrapped in the purple cloak of mockery. He who made man from the dust is pressed into that dust under the weight of the Cross. He who is adorned with every virtue is stripped of everything He owns. He who hung the earth and the skies in their order is hung upon a tree. He who came to heal our wounded hearts allows His to be pierced. He who is the Giver of Eternal Life gives up His Spirit and submits to death.

This is a stumbling block to the Jews, St. Paul tells us, and foolishness to the Gentiles. But to we who believe and are being saved, Christ: The Power of God and the Wisdom of God!

The Cross permits us to make sense of this life and understand our own story. The apparent contradictions above are signs that things are not always as they seem. The devil likes to make us think otherwise. He always calls to mind the half-truths in the story of our life. Think back on the trial account of Jesus. We heard all sorts of testimony against Jesus, false and true, but where were the positive accounts of the things done by the Lord? Who recounted the feeding of the 5000, the healing of countless blind, mute, lame, and dead? Where was that part story? When only half of the story is told, terrible things happen. Likewise with ourselves.

Are your sins not great ones, only venial?
Come to the Cross and behold the price for even the smallest sin.
Are your sins great ones?
Come to the Cross and see that there is nothing that God will not forgive.

Have you wounded others by your sins?
Come to the Cross and see what that sin does to others.
Have you been wounded by others sins?
Come and be healed by the wounds of Jesus.

Is your faith strong?
Come to the Cross and see how quickly it can become weak without Him.
Is your faith weak?
Come to the Cross and see how quickly He can make it strong.

Do you gossiped about others, uttered harsh words or made false judgments?
Come to the Cross and see the power of words.
Have you been gossiped about, spoken to harshly or judged?
Come to the Cross and see the One whose judgment alone matters.

Do you feel loved by others?
Come to the Cross and see the extent that we are called to show love.
Do you feel unloved?
Come to the Cross and see the extent of God’s love for you.

In just a moment we will have the Veneration of the Cross, when we will have the chance to come forward, genuflect or bow before a splinter of the True Cross that Jesus died on, and allow the Lord to help you hear the rest of the story. We all know most of the story of the Lord and of ourselves. But let us pause in this moment to really take the time to rest with our mother and see if there is more yet to be said. Come to the Cross of Jesus. Come and meet the Lord once more. Come, let us adore.