The world has become a very strange place as we respond to COVID-19. Our pandemic has forced us to remain at our homes, but we are always close as brothers and sisters of this faith community. In spite of the many challenges we face being quarantined, we are given time to discern our role and the purpose of our lives. Time to discern our Christianity that calls you and me to be there for our families, our neighbors, those in need. And YES, the time to pray, fast and give alms.
We pray for our families, our country and our world, for all the first responders dealing with the coronavirus patients, to those providing food, medicine and shelter for those in need and to those that keep all safe. We fast, as we reflect on all those unnecessary things we have or do, especially the things that others may need for survival and well-being. All of which we receive from God and we are to share.
At this point, in most places around the world, Triduum in Catholic churches look much different than it usually does. We are not celebrating these highest of our holy days at church, the place of worship that has held our prayer at this touchstone moment in the liturgical year. Thank God for the technology that allows us to pray together in virtual space.
I invite you all dear brothers and sisters to bring out your crucifix, have it set at table during Mass. The image of the crucified Christ, which is the focal point of the liturgy of Good Friday, makes us realize the true seriousness of our human misery, human aloneness and human sin. Yet, throughout all the centuries of Church history, it has constantly been regarded as an image of consolation and an image of hope.
Today due to COVID-19, we cannot be at Church in front of our crucifix. So, we gather at our homes this day and wonder how this story we’ve heard again will renew us. Because once again, we need to respond to what our God has done for us. We need to join in the journey. We look at the cross and can wonder why? Why indeed so much suffering, so much hate, so much pain?
And then we look at the image of Jesus – who loved us – who would do anything for us.
The Jesus whose story tells us that he gathered with all those who were most in need – the blind and the lame, the sick and the dying, the lost and the forgotten, the sinner and the rejected.
He gathered with them to give them life – to give them newness. His love for each of them healed them – made them whole. And so we look at the Cross and wonder now, what we can do? How to redeem all that suffering and hurt? And the response is simple – the message of our loving God is that indeed we can no longer look up at the Cross – why search for the Lord among the dead – why look at the lifeless body. Look instead to where his life would pour out to – to that same group of people with whom he loved and lived. And it is there that we see his life renewed.
We look to those who are suffering with disease – those dying and afraid and through our love and with our hands we would give them the life poured out from Jesus. We look to those who are lost through addiction – ravaged by this disease and perhaps feeling above all things that there is no hope and no future. And we would look to them with compassion and attempt to restore them to life thought the life poured out from Jesus on the Cross. And we would look to the violence that surrounds us – in the world, in our own cities and streets and rather than live in fear and despair we would bring to these our suffering brothers and sisters the life of the Savior – the life-giving Blood of the crucified.
There is a purpose to it all – the death on the Cross was not an end – the death on the Cross was the way in which His life was poured out to others – his death made it possible for those who were lost and despairing and forgotten to be filled with life. And it is our mission now to confer that life on those who otherwise might die – might be alienated; might be lost.
We no longer look to find Jesus on the Cross or in the tomb – we look to where his life takes new form – in the least of our brothers and sisters – and in our love for them, indeed, we ourselves become more alive. As we venerate the cross at home, we need to keep in mind its redemptive power. It is by the cross of Jesus that the entire human race is saved.
Today, let us reflect on Augustine’s comments on those who stood at the cross of Jesus. He said: “As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the redeemer; and touch the scars of his resurrection. He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption.” Ponder how great these things are.
Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.
Deacon Michael Maria
VIDEO POSTING SCHEDULE: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday
We will be posting video services conducted by Father Devdas for the following:
Holy Thursday – Video Posted on Website by 7:00 PM, Thursday
Good Friday – Now posted
Easter Vigil – Video Posted on Website by 8:00 PM, Saturday
They will be posted on the main page of the website.