PRAISED BE JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH!
|The Sanctuary at Passiontide|
The sanctuary looks gloomier today on account of the veiling of the crucifixes and sacred images. Once more we are reminded of the proximity of Holy Week. In the old calendar, we used to say that we have entered Passiontide. This means that we begin commemorating the sufferings of our Savior. Therefore, we mourn over his suffering and death. We also mourn for our sins which brought him to suffering.
But for our Lord, the approach of the days of his suffering is not an occasion for sadness. He said: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” What to the world seem to be days of pain and sorrow, to the Lord, these are days of glory. Again, the Lord upsets the thinking of the world. “Glory” means honor, public praise, and fame. Thus, to the world, it would mean popularity and public adulation. But to the Lord, it would mean humiliation and suffering. In other words, the glory of Christ is the Cross.
The Cross is the glory of Christ. It is the way by which he glorifies the Father. it is the way by which he is glorified by the Father. “Son though he was, he learned obedience by what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” The Son of God glorified his Father by obediently accepting even death, death on the Cross. Every living being values its survival. But when the Lord obeyed his Father unto death, he gave greater importance to his Father than to his own life. He surrendered his will to the will of his Father. He offered his life because he loves the Father. In this way, his death becomes lifegiving. Losing his life, Jesus gave life to the world. He is the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies in order to bear much fruit. And he challenges us to imitate him: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world preserves it for eternal life.” St. Teresa of Jesus takes the image of the worm which weaves a cocoon of silk around itself. In this cocoon, the worm dies in order to be transformed into a butterfly. So it is which anyone whose life is hidden in Christ. He dies to his own will and in doing so, he conforms himself to the will of God. He dies to his own self and in doing so, he is transformed into the likeness of Jesus. “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my Father be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
The Father honored Jesus by declaring that he is well pleased with the Son whom he loves. Because Jesus humbled himself and obediently accepted death on the Cross, God highly exalted him and gave him a Name which is above all other names. He draws all people to his Son who was lifted up on the wood of the Cross. If we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow him along the same way of the Cross. If we are to serve him, we will serve him by our self denial. “Therefore, take courage,” says St. Teresa, “Let us…weave this little cocoon by getting rid of our self-love and self-will, our attachment to any earthly thing, and by performing deeds of penance, prayer, mortification, obedience…Let it die; let this silkworm die…And you will see how we see God, as well as ourselves placed in his greatness, as is this little silkworm within its cocoon…When the soul is truly dead to the world, a little white butterfly comes forth.” Jesus was made perfect by what he suffered. In like manner shall we be transformed if we deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him.
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!