On a day like this, I sometimes feel that the most eloquent response to the word of God we have proclaimed is silence. Even the best of homilies could be a distraction from the deep meditation in which many of us find ourselves at the end of the story of the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. But I think a short meditation might be useful to focus our hearts and minds in the right direction. Otherwise we might be like little Johnny who was failing all his exams in the public school until his parents decided to send him to a Catholic school. At the end of the year Johnny came out on top of the class. When his parents asked him what made him change so dramatically Johnny replied: “You see, the moment I walked into that new school and saw that guy hanging on the cross, I knew that the people here were damn serious; so I decided not to take any chances.”
The crucifix might have helped Johnny to improve his scores but it is easy to see that Johnny has misread the crucifix. The man on the cross is not there to scare little boys (or us) but to show them how much he loves them. And today my brothers and sisters, He wants to show you how much He loves you. He is not here to threaten - or show us what will happen to us if we sin. He is here to show you and me that He has already paid the penalty for our sins. He doesn't die on the cross for any wrong that He has done. He chooses to die, out of love, for what you and I have done. He chooses to die for our sins. But be at peace, because he loves you. He suffered and died for you. He loves you more that you can imagine. If we were to take all the love in every heart of everyone on earth, and add to it all the love of all those who ever existed throughout history, then add the love of all the saints in heaven, and all the angels, and pour all that love into one Heart - and direct all that love on ourselves - it would still fall infinitely short of the love God is pouring out on each one of us - right now.
“He died for us:” Many of us have heard this phrase so many times that it now carries with it neither the shock of someone dying on account of what we have done nor the good news of our being delivered from sin and death.
There is a line in today's Gospel that shocks me: "The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."
I just want to invite each of you to focus this Holy Week on the good news of Jesus not just desiring, but LONGING…THIRSTING to celebrate this Passover, this last supper, His great act of love and sacrifice for you IN OUR PARISH, IN YOUR HOUSE, IN YOUR HEART. He wants to be with you and to stay with you. He wants you to be convinced once and for all that He came into the world with the specific intention of freeing you, of saving you from sin and death. This is true freedom – deep freedom – and it’s FREE. It’s His gratuitous gift for you.
Lord, there is one word that shines in my heart today - JOY! Help me not to leave room in my heart for sadness - even when faced with difficult temptations, disappointments or even failure and sin. You came to transform my mortal and weak life into a life of joy and hope in You. You are the conqueror of death and sin - the King that comes to save my poor soul. I want to be yours completely - to be your servant and to love You and serve You with my entire heart, soul, mind and strength!