that Friday is the Commemoration of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The Church
has us recall her sorrows just before Holy Week, so that we can recall her role
as Co-redemptrix with our Lord, Mediatrix
of all grace. Please make the effort to attend the Stations of the
Cross and the Mass of our Lady
we begin the season known as “Passiontide”—the two
weeks in which the Church asks us to meditate very closely on the
major events of our salvation—the Passion, Death, and
Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We should think of it as
a deepening Lenten observance—with an emphasis on the need for
renewing our relationship with God, and understanding the serious
consequences of breaking that relationship through sin, or through
indifference to the love of God.
Paul tries to put this into perspective in today's Epistle. He
reminds us that in the Old Testament the Jewish people could offer
God nothing more than the sacrifice of a few of their animals; a
goat, a calf, perhaps a pigeon or a dove. And the priests who
offered those animal sacrifices for them were just sinful men like
themselves. A very poor payback for all of the liberties they
were accustomed to taking with God's Commandments. But now,
with our Lord's sacrifice, we have the ability to offer God something
perfect. We now have the perfect sacrifice, offered by the
is God, Himself, Jesus Christ, the Son of God—true God and true
man—who offers Himself up for our sins. By undergoing His
Passion on the Cross, He has, once and for all time, freed us from
the debt of sin —a debt that we had absolutely no way to repay
on our own.
me call your attention to this word we use: “Passion.”
It is misunderstood by most modern people. They usually
think it has something to do with steamy (and unlikely) romances,
like those in the soap operas. Often, people don't understand
what we mean by the “passion” of Christ. Now,
obviously it has nothing to do with over-acted dramas. But in a
sense, it does have to do with romance—the truest sort of
love—the love of God, giving Himself unselfishly for the people
whom He loves, in spite of their unworthiness and ingratitude.
accurately defined, is the opposite of “action.”
“Action” means taking the initiative; seizing the
situation, and doing what one desires, or needs to do. "Passion"
is quite the opposite. It means abandoning one's self; giving
up one's free will, and surrendering one's self to the designs of
the immediate sense, our Lord surrendered Himself to the will of the
Jews and the Romans who crucified Him. The Creator gave Himself
over to the will of His creatures—who were free to accept or
reject Him —to love Him or to hate Him.
a more general sense, our Lord surrendered Himself to our wills. For
we are also His creatures—likewise able to accept or reject
in the eternal sense—infinitely more important—our Lord
has united Himself to all humanity, and surrendered Himself—and
us along with Him—to the will of the Father. The
creatures are thus given over to the Creator. That is the true
essence of our salvation—the reuniting of our wills with the
will of God. In Jesus Christ, and in His Passion, we who are
unable to repay anything, are forgiven of everything. Man and
God are re-united in the Passion of the God-man.
I mentioned that in the coming two weeks we should meditate very
closely on the events of this Passion. That meditation has to
be introspective—that means that we have to understand not only
what the Passion is, but how we should relate to it.
Lord endured cruel suffering—poured out His Blood—and
died for us. Infinite God gave Himself up for His lowly
all too often, we are indifferent:
Church is in deep trouble, but we are reluctant to do anything except
watch; “That's the pope's problem,” we say, “or the
bishop's or the priest's.” If we were truly grateful for
the Passion, we would be falling all over ourselves looking for ways
to help; with prayer, and contributions, and personal effort.
society is in much the same trouble. The world is upside down!
Influential people promote sin, and frustrate goodness. We
are well on our way to becoming a society that does not even know
God. Again, if we were sincere in our Faith, and grateful to
God, we would be trying to do something about it.
own families experience many of the same difficulties—indeed,
our own personal lives. Do we do anything about it?? Do
we pray? Are we doing penance? Are we giving good
example? Are we making the effort?
next two weeks contain the key to changing all that. The Masses
and ceremonies of Passiontide give us wonderful material for
meditation —to share our Lord's pain, to understand His
anguish, to return His love.
hope that the Masses of the next two weeks, the stations of the
Cross, the liturgy of Good Friday, will be packed with people, who
have come to understand the love of God, and to get serious about
returning that love.
no mistake about it—our world is at a cross roads—and
what we do during the next two weeks, and during the next few years,
will make all the difference—both for society on earth, and for
our own personal salvation.
be indifferent to the God who loved you so much that He gave Himself
up to die for love of you!