We have now entered into the Holy Week, the Week of our redemption. As we walk with Jesus towards his passion, death and resurrection from the dead let us let these beautiful reflections speak to us.
God turns an atrocious tragedy into an infinitely eternal blessing. St Josemaria Escriva writes:
The tragedy of the passion brings to fulfilment our own life and the whole of human history. We can’t let Holy Week be just a kind of commemoration. It means contemplating the mystery of Jesus Christ as something which continues to work in our souls.
In the shadow of the crucifix souls find their eternal refuge. St Paul of the Cross says: O souls! Seek a refuge, like pure doves, in the shadow of the crucifix. There, mourn the Passion of your divine Spouse, and drawing from your hearts flames of love and rivers of tears, make of them a precious balm with which to anoint the wounds of your Saviour.
Jesus’ Cross is our spiritual bridge to the Heavenly Jerusalem. St Ephrem the Syrians notes:
We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. ..You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.
Jesus death is our greatest hope that life defeats death absolutely. St Augustine observes: The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.
Christians sing and dance to the Easter hallelujah song. Pope St John Paul II states: Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.
True love for Christ’s passion is attaching our heart to Jesus crucified to see our humanity in Him. St Pope Leo the Great says: True reverence for the Lord’s passion means fixing the eyes of our heart on Jesus crucified and recognizing in him our own humanity.
Jesus’ love for me is beyond comprehension! Thus, St Gemma Galgani meditates: Why did you suffer for me, dear Jesus? For love! The nails…the crown…the cross…all for the love of me!
Jesus passion brings us to meditate six things. Let us follow the way shown to us by St Peter of Alcantara! In the passion of our blessed Savior, six things chiefly are to be meditated upon. First, the bitterness of his sorrow, that we may compassionate with him. Secondly, the greatness of our sins, which were the cause of his torments, that we may abhor them. Thirdly, the greatness of the benefit, that we may be grateful for it. Fourthly, the excellency of the divine charity and bounty therein manifested, that we may love him more fervently. Fifthly, the convenience of the mystery, that we may be drawn to admiration of it. Lastly, the multiplicity of virtues of our blessed Savior which did shine in this stupendous mystery, that we may partly imitate and partly admire them.
Christ’s Cross is my real glory! St Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, tells us: But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal 6:14).
Calvary is the school of love. St Francis de Sales affirms: Mount Calvary is the academy of love.
Christ’s Cross is the source of life to every human being. St Ephrem of Edessa reflects: We give glory to You, Lord, who raised up Your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to You who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man.
Suffering is the witness that truth and love prevail against lie and violence. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI asserts: Ultimately, in the battle against lies and violence, truth and love have no other weapon than the witness of suffering.
The Eucharistic Jesus longs to live in you! St Therese of Lisieux says: Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.
The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist are two manifestations of Jesus’ love given to his disciples, and us. St John Paul II says: The washing of the feet and the sacrament of the Eucharist: two expressions of one and the same mystery of love entrusted to the disciples, so that, Jesus says, “as I have done… so also must you do” (Jn 13:15).
God’s victorious and crushing answer to evil in our world is the Cross. Pope Francis powerfully states: The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world. Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent. And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us. Remember this: God, in judging us, loves us. If I embrace his love then I am saved, if I refuse it, then I am condemned, not by him, but my own self, because God never condemns, he only loves and saves.
May these meditations bring us all to our knees and, humbly, make us claim Jesus Christ’s Lordship magnificently portrayed in his saving Cross: We adore you and we bless you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all the churches which are in the whole world, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap