Monday, April 18, 2011

On Confessing the Lordship of Christ

To the unbeliever’s eye, the passion of our Lord seems to be a story of a shameful defeat. The man who was acclaimed as a prophet and a wonderworker, much admired by many, walks to his death, bearing the instrument of his execution. Abandoned by his disciples, surrounded by his enemies and by a jeering crowd, Jesus was truly forlorn. He cries out from the cross: Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? But that is what the unbeliever sees. The Gospel writer, St. Matthew, helps us look at these sad events from the point of view of faith. First, St. Matthew shows us clearly that everything that happened in that day happened in order to fulfill the scriptures. When one of his disciples cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus said to him: “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than 12 legions of angels? But then, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass this way?...But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.” The concern was to show that all this is the fulfillment of Sacred Scriptures. These events were not an unfortunate succession of coincidences but rather, these were premeditated events – carefully planned by the Blessed Trinity with a specific outcome in mind. The objective is clearly our salvation. This took place for us men and for our salvation (qui propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem…) In fact, it did not take long for the objectives to be achieved. Immediately after the Lord expired, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” Last Sunday, we saw how Lazarus, the friend of Christ, was raised from the dead. Today, we see not one, not two, but many saints coming forth from their tombs. By this, Christ’s glory is revealed: “From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Because of this, to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God is no longer deemed as blasphemy as the chief priest supposed. To acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is to profess the truth. To confess this truth is to glorify the Father: “at the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

This is what we are preparing to do throughout the season of Lent. We pray, we fast, we confess our guilt and rectify our ways during this holy season so that Easter may find us worthy of professing the faith that saves: “For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10) As Lent draws to a close, let us intensify our prayer and fasting. Let us turn with all our hearts to the Lord and confess our sins so that when the Easter Triduum comes we may be worthy to make the centurion’s confession our own: “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

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