Apr 9, 2017

Holy Week Begins



From this Sunday to next, we will have journeyed through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Matthew's Gospel account of the Lord's final twenty four hours allows us to reflect on where I find myself within the drama of this one event. If Christ were to look out at those around Him, where would I be? Who would I be like?


There are times when I am like Judas, proud to be associated with all the holy people, but am I living a double life? I am happy to be included in the assembly of the faithful, but I am just "playing" church. Is there a secret life, an after-hours lifestyle that if anyone knew, I would be known as the traitor to Christ?


Sometimes I can mirror the example of all the apostles who, in the Garden of Gethsemane, fell asleep and, in the battle, quietly slipped away into the shadows when I was needed by the Lord to share a burden, to give encouragement, and not to run or change the subject when being held accountable for my faith.


The Jewish High Priest Caiaphas accuses Jesus of blasphemy. Maybe that's what I also do, when I would rather have Jesus simply model for me how to "do" good things and "be" a nice person, instead of allowing myself to actually pray to Him, listen to His words and take advice from Him. Sometimes I might think that I know better than God - because I live in the real world! And God doesn't?


Then there's the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. How many times do I try “to pass the buck” so that I can return to my own little kingdom, hide away in my home, only be concerned about my own family, or bury myself in work.


Our Lord was mocked, ridiculed and cursed by Roman soldiers, military personel, law enforcers. What is my own language like? How do I allow the company I keep to put words into my mouth? Can I be crude and vulgar in my workplace or on the road, but when I show up at church, use the same mouth and tongue to say holy words and beautiful prayers?  The soldiers did the same to Christ - the breath used to curse and swear, the same breath that praises and pray - it was mockery.


Then I can sometimes be like Simon of Cyrene who had to help Christ carry the Cross - sometimes annoyed that I'm guilted into or forced to help because I think that I am the master of my own time and duties - I decide my schedule and who I will help.


When Christ was killed the earth shock, the Sun eclipsed and dead bodies shuddered in their graves. But I just went home in muted silence, unmoved to the cries of nature herself as she is wounded by our selfishness, greed and pillaging.


And then there are the women who stood by the cross of Christ to the bitter end. How often have I presumed and allowed the work of Christian faith and prayers to always fall upon the shoulders of mothers, grandmothers and children? Where are the men of faith?


Instead, there was only one man and one woman on the hill of Calvary worthy of our imitation - they were not chosen from among religious leaders, nor numbered from the apostles, the military warriors, or the crowd of wellwishers or spectators.

Now is a sacred time to look beyond the crowd and imitate Christ, how He lived and how He died. Now is a sacred time to look through the crowd for Mary, His mother, how she prayed, how she never took her eyes off her Son.

May God have mercy on me if my eyes have wandered, my mouth misspoken, my feet ran away or my heart has become hardened. May God have mercy on us all if we have imitated anyone else other than Jesus and Mary on Calvary.

He Ascended into Heaven

Not so long ago, I had the opportunity, a privilege, to offer the graveside prayers at our Catholic cemetery in San Diego. Founded in 19...