by Father Charles Irvin, M.Div, J.D.
Just prior to Holy Week we find Jesus speaking about
His Cross, His path to Glory
through Humiliation, Life through Death,
Good through Evil. Nothing in Human History is so totally
Paradoxical as the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
About to be displayed in Degradation during Holy Week, He
speaks of His Glory being revealed.
In Roman times a Crucifixion was supposed to be a Public Spectacle. Yet It is at
the same time a personal matter for you and for me. Your Salvation and mine are found in It.
Yes, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Calvary
was a spectacular event. The characters were momentous. Rome was there in her Imperial Power. One of the world's great religions
was there in an hour of critical decision. Yet it is also true that this historical and monumental spectacle of nearly Two
Thousand Years ago personally includes you and me. Sins of the Flesh,
Sins of Pride, Sins of Omission, Sins
such as yours and such as mine nailed Christ to His
Cross. And They still do. All of those Sins were there then
as They are now. We were and are now personally involved, much as we'd like to deny it.
The Cross reveals the Worst that's within us; It
reveals what Evil we're capable of doing to each other - Battering,
Abusing, Using, Hurting, and
Killing Human Life in Its beginning, in the living of
it, and at Its end ... in a Holocaust that seems
never to cease.
The Cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
likewise Illumines and Reveals the Best that's within us. It's message is that
our God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, your
Father and mine, thinks we are worth, individually worth, what happened on that Cross.
Our finite Humanity, yours individually as well as mine, has been because of Christ's
Cross invested with Infinite Value, Worth and
Dignity. The Worst in our Humanity in all of
Its Stupidity and Cruelty succeeded in
Crucifying the Best that God could possibly give us, the
most Beautiful Human Being that ever existed. And in that monumental
Act of Cruelty and Evil, God brought out the
Best that's within us - for which we are here to aspire in Prayer and
Petition to God in Christ.
For the stupendous Truth is that in Dying for you,
Christ Died for something of Infinite Value
within you - your Immortal Soul that now can never Die.
The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a
Crushing Defeat for Righteousness and out of It came the
Greatest Victory that Righteousness has ever won.
"Except", said Jesus, "a grain of
wheat fall into the ground and die it abides alone, but if it dies it brings forth much fruit." And the same is
true for your life joined into His.
Each Sunday when we celebrate Mass here, together we jointly and
Sacramentally enter into the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ,
celebrating a Colossal Failure that gives us Infinite Victory. To begin
Holy Week we celebrate Palm Sunday,
that moment when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem amidst shouted Blessings
and Hosannas of the crowd, the same crowd which a few short days
later would shout: Crucify Him! Crucify Him! ... and then did so.
And He Died a Failure. One of
His most trusted Apostles, Judas, sold Him out for money.
His prime Apostle, Peter, sold Him out in three moments of swearing. The others had all fled. No one
was there except a pagan military officer and his troops, Mary, His
mother - along with Mary Magdalene, and a young teenage boy by the name of John. His
own people, fearing God's wrath for breaking rules of religious ritual conspired with a weak Roman
governor who thereupon buckled under fear of not being liked, wanting to please the crowd as well as wanting to please Caesar. As evening fell,
all of Christ's Enemies felt that They had finished
Him off and that They were rid of Him forever.
Little did they
then realize that those Hands they had nailed to the
Cross were lifting the whole world up before the Eyes of His Father.
Little did they realize that the Heart they had Pierced and Emptied
of Blood was filled with a Precious Love that would Save
each and every Human Being given His Body and Blood in the
Sacrament of Holy Communion.
There is perhaps much in your life and mine that is Failure, Loss
and Pain. And no doubt there will be more. Life is not fair; it never has been, and it never will be.
Furthermore, the Fickle Human Heart
will believe any Lie and follow any Fable. Without Faith in Jesus
Christ we will believe anything and do anything.
The Mystical Press - by Marco dal Pino (Marco da Siena) - Vatican
(Click on image to see complete depiction)
But with belief in Jesus Christ and in Him
Crucified, all in life that is upside down can be turned right side up. All that is inside out can be pulled out into the open for all
to see and share. The Glory of the Divinity that is the Living
God present within us can now, in the broken Body of Jesus Christ and
in the Crushed Grapes of His Humanity, be shared by all of
us in a Holy Communion in which God comes to us in the fullness of
His Presence, His Power, and His Love.
The Great Paradox of your life along with the Great Paradox of mine finds
Meaning, Purpose and Fulfillment in the
Momentous Paradox of Christ's Suffering,
Passion and Death. For with It now,
God our Father, in your life and in mine, brings Good
out of Evil, Meaning out of Absurdity,
Order out of Chaos, Glory out of
Humiliation, Holiness out of Sin, and
Life out of Death.
And because of what we as a Church are about to share in common celebration over this
Holy Week, all of It is yours, O Christian.
Gospel Readings for Holy Week (A, B, C)
Jesus is anointed at Bethany
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal and Peter's Denial
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
Jesus announces His Ministry at Nazareth
Jesus washes the feet of His Apostles
The Passion and Death of Jesus
To Holy Week Pages
Meditations on the Triduum
by Father John Corapi
Holy Week Retreat
by Father Pablo Straub