Throughout Holy Week the Church re-proposes to the world the mysteries of salvation with the hope that we might renew our relationship with Christ. With the eyes of faith, we shall look upon Him Who was pierced for our sakes and come to know the depth of Divine Love that alone can fill the longing of our soul. Christ holds up to our gaze the cross with this understanding: If we embrace it with love, as He did, we will find the fullness of life. Jesus embraced the cross, and in His great love he transformed it into an instrument of grace and power with which He would recreate the world. By the blood of the cross he won for us our salvation. Now He invites us to surrender our own sufferings, our own limitations, disabilities and distress to Him and thereby share in His own redemptive love.
Moved with pity by the miserable condition of His people, the Beloved Son of God came down from His majestic throne to seek out and find all who were lost. We have heard the phrase, “He died for us,” so many times that we tend to nod our heads and mumble, "Yah! I know." For some reason, the gospel message no longer shocks us. Because of our sophistication and technical advancements we are not overawed by the news that we are delivered from the power of death. It is important that we turn our gaze beyond the superficial and mundane. There we will enter into the broader realm of wonder and awe. Allowing ourselves to stand at the foot of Christ's cross, as if for the first time, we shall enter into the mystery of redeeming love and transforming grace.
The Apostle Paul reminds us, God never ceases to show the richness of His mercy throughout the ages. The transformation of the heart that leads to the confession of sins is “God's gift”, it is “His work” (cf. Eph 2:8-10). To be touched with tenderness by His hand and shaped by His grace allows us to acknowledge our sins and to receive Divine Mercy. The Cross of Christ shows God's judgment on sin and His compassion towards sinners. Divine mercy, expressed at the terrible cost of the violent death of God’s Only Begotten Son, is worthily received when we choose to repent of our sins. The proof that God’s mercy was not wasted upon us is shown when we live our gratitude for mercy by striving after holiness with zeal and joy.
On the cross Jesus took our guilt upon Himself. He bore the full consequences of our sin and set us free. With a tenderness that never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and start afresh. Jesus not only accompanies us but actually carries us on His shoulders, making it possible for us to imitate Him in carrying our cross. Rejected by the people, condemned by the religious leaders, executed by the civil authorities, naked and degraded, Jesus entered once and for all through the veil to become the sacrifice of atonement. The people who were defiled by the blood poured out in violence and unlawful sacrifice were purified by the blood of the Lamb that was slain. No one is excluded from the mercy of God. Everyone is offered access to it. The Church is the Household of God that welcomes all and refuses no one. The doors of the Church are wide open, so that all who desire it can find acceptance and forgiveness.
Through the mystery of the Incarnation, the human race is united and, as it were, enfolded within the cloak of divine blessing, a blessing that permeates, sustains, redeems and sanctifies all things. In the face of saving grace, we cannot stand idly by. But we have respond to the call of divine love with our whole being. Only then can we enter into a profound communion of love with Christ Who suffered, died and rose for us and be transformed into Sons and Daughters of God in the Son.
Holy Week was Jesus week of decision. It is also a week of decision for us. As disciples of the Lamb that was slain we must decide to love our enemies, count as our neighbors those who we think little of. Because Jesus is our Lord and Savior we must decide to give up the material things that offer us nothing but only drain us of real life. Because Jesus is our Lord and Redeemer we must decide to go where God calls us, follow where God leads us, no matter how inconvenient it is, how difficult it is, how painful it might be. We must decide to live life to the full and not as mere spectators. Lord Jesus you died and rose for love of us, help us to live and die for love of You. Amen.
--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO