Saturday, April 11, 2009
Holy Saturday Thoughts from Yesterday and for Tomorrow
Yesterday I told the congregation that, according to some of the saints, Christ's greatest suffering was not the beatings, the stripping, flogging, crowning with thorns or the crucifixion, dreadful as they were. His greatest suffering, the cup He asked the Father to let pass Him by, was that despite the 'excess' of His love for man in His love for the Father, despite all that He did to reveal His Father's love and mercy still that love would be spurned and some would choose to walk away. Each time we sin; each time we are bitter, resentful, greedy, lustful, lie, cheat or hate, take what is not ours or fail to love we turn and walk away from Him. I pointed to the altar then and the empty tabernacle and spoke of how these symbolise a world without God, without Christ. What if that were always the case? I asked. What if all our tabernacles were empty, our altars bare? I told them what our archbishop had said 'One in ten priests in the diocese are under seventy years old'. 1 in 10. One doesn't need even Junior Cert maths to see what that means. How come other generations could provide so many vocations and this one provide so few? I have made my choice and I pointed to my brother friars and our postulants and the choices they have made. They the people have made choices too. (As one friar recently pointed out we have contracepted ourselves into a vocations crisis). We need to get down on our knees and beg God to save us. We need to turn back and respond with loving acts to the One who loves us so much.
Tonight I sing the Exultet so I haven't given as much thought to my sermon for tomorrow as I should. I hope to point out, as I did last year, how lame our 'Happy Easter' is compared to the Greek 'Christos Anesti!' 'Christ is Risen!' should be our greeting. We have let the materialists, atheists and agnostics, the liberals and the faint-hearted tells us how to live the faith in public for too long. In Irish the traditional daily greeting was 'God be with you' to which the reply was 'God and Mary with you'. You may reply but those were different times. Yes they were different times with different people; they had courage and faith to proclaim what they knew to be true. The three disciples in the Gospel could be a model for facing up to the challenge. We could stand with Mary Magdalen, outside the tomb, outside the mystery, weeping. We could be like Peter, having entered the tomb but not grasping the mystery, not believing. Or we could be like John entering into both the tomb and the mystery, seeing, contemplating, and believing even though we do not yet understand the full wonder of what Christ has done for us. If we really grasp with John what Christ has done we will not be able to keep it quiet; we will want to proclaim it from the rooftops. In rising from the dead He lifts us out of death for we are one person with Him. Heaven is wide open for us and the Uncreated Light is poured out on creation. We are created anew in Christ and called to sit with Him upon the Throne of Heaven, the Throne of God. That is why the Church's liturgy is a song and should be sung. That is why should never stop singing, 'Christos Anesti! Christ is Risen!'