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The Lesson of the Cross


- Father John Buchanan -

( Posted 4/01/10) Even the most cursory study of the last days of Our Lord’s life on earth reveals that there has been little change in human nature over the past twenty centuries.  All we have to do is to ask ourselves:  who were they who welcomed Him into His holy city on Palm Sunday, and, secondly, who were they that secured His death, His murder, five day later?

Those who welcomed Him on Palm Sunday were the little people, dare we say, the common people, and the children.  And those who conspired in His execution on the Friday were the privileged, the aristocracy, the theologians and doctors of the law—the intelligentsia.

Is it any different today?

Who are the people who still retain their Catholic identity in faith and practice after these years of torment and torture in the Church?  Little people like ourselves, children.  Children are very perceptive.  They can spot a phony.  They can also recognize a friend.  And meanwhile, Christ and His Gospel continue to be pilloried and mocked by the present-day scribes and Pharisees, the high priests who mould our social structures, control our economies, legislate for us and judge us, pontificate in our halls of learning.

Why do sophistication and skepticism so often go hand in hand?  We suppose that intellectual pride is the answer.  But, then, that was the sin of Lucifer. And yet, for the believer, once again and for another year man has come with his burden of sin and sorrow and thrown it upon the shoulders of the suffering Christ.  And once again the Saviour of us all has carried that bitter and filthy burden up the hill of Calvary and destroyed it, annihilated it, by the Cross and by His death.

If that were the end of it, all would be lost, that beautiful Life to no avail, the suffering and pain meaningless, another candle snuffed out. What would people care?  It happens every day – in the old folks’ home, on an operating table, the junkie who uses the needle once too often, in the abortion clinic.  Life was cheap in those times, as cheap as it is today.  The Resurrection has this impact:  that out of the darkness of defeat and death, the chill stone of the tomb, came victory and vibrancy such as the world had never known, would never know again.

The one word which characterizes this sacred season of Easter is the hackneyed little word “hope”.  Before Christ as without Christ, there was and is no such thing as hope.  In Him we have a basis of hope, for our own personal salvation, for that of our families, and for that of our friends.  Because when Christ rises all mankind rise with Him. 

“In Him there was life and that life was the light of men.”  He paid the price for our hope, which was demanded by His Father’s innermost nature and being.  Man had sold himself into a thralldom.  Only the God-Man could deposit the ransom for primeval foolishness and folly.  But why blame another?  If we look into our own hearts we see what fools we ourselves have been.  Our Lord on the Cross – the only sane Person in a universe of stupidity, a sea of fools.

How sparingly Our Lord orchestrates His Resurrection.  There is no fanfare.  An encounter with the one-time sinner in a garden, and the Magdalene represents us all.  Two short episodes in the upper room.  An evening meal in a small town.  Upon a hill in Galilee.  Beside the lake in a morning mist. Just enough artistically to establish the unmistakable and the undeniable fact.  And then He was gone – back to the arms of His Father’s love, there to wait and to reign the long years through, until once again the Father would send Him upon a mission to the men of earth, that time to judge the nations in the Great Assize.

How can we think to get into our small minds the unfathomable mystery of the Christ? In the Vigil Service, when we blessed and put the signature on the great candle which we used to symbolize to ourselves the Christ Risen, the Church put into our hearts the prayers of Easter…

Father, we share in the light of your glory

Through your son, the light of the world.

Inflame us with a new hope

Purify our minds

By our Easter celebration

And bring us one day

To the feasts of the eternal light.

For He is yesterday and today

The Beginning and the End,

The Alpha and the Omega

All time belongs to Him

And the Ages

To Him be glory and power

Through every age and forevermore

By His holy and glorious wounds

May He guard and keep us

His light rising in glory

Dispelling the darkness of OUR hearts and minds

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