The giant candlesticks framing the tabernacle were draped in purple, like funereal palls. The tabernacle too was tented in purple, and the crucifix above was veiled in purple as well. I looked to the left of the chancel, and there, also, the sweet Madonna and Child were covered, but the bank of votives still burned bright.
The honest morning light fell through skylights upon the violet swathes and the red carpet as though saying, “See what is happening. Pay attention. Do not turn away.”
Today is Passion Sunday, a day which reminds the Church that the Body of Christ is entering the last weeks of Lent and the coming of Holy Week. It is a time to recall, as part of His Body, His Passion, the last weeks before His death and resurrection. Passion comes from the Latin passio, meaning suffering, and Christ’s passion is often defined as the union of love and suffering. As I gazed on the purple drapes, I wondered about suffering. And I wondered about love.
For it was God’s immense love that redeemed us, continues to redeem us. Today it is God’s immense love that visits us through His Body, the Church, in the sacraments and in the parish family. It was that love, and the suffering inherent in love borne out in willing sacrifice, that walked the path to Calvary so that we might live.
And not only live in eternity, but live today. Live in the Resurrection by living in His love in the here and now. How do we do this? Through the Church.
I looked about the nave at my sisters and brothers kneeling in the pews. We, like every family, and all of mankind, are a dysfunctional lot, full of petty jealousies, sullen secrets, and powerful egos. But a sacramental river runs through us, washing us clean as we confess our sins, receive absolution, and partake of the Eucharist. With every Mass we are redeemed again, to love one another better, with greater humility, with greater sacrifice of our own wills.
We walk with Christ the Way of His Cross, for it is a familiar path. Each day of our lives is barbed with the little pains of love. To escape these is to withdraw from life, to hide from others, to be alone. Our Way of the Cross lies in the minute minutes of our time here, in the everyday bits of our hours.
The Church, I have found to my utter delight, integrates all of this – our way through time with His Way of the Cross. It pulls together the disparate strands that threaten to unravel our souls, and weaves a fine fabric. In the pulling, in the weaving, we become resurrected creatures, creatures of the morning light, unafraid of seeing. We pay attention as never before.
This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. We shall listen for His knock as he enters the gates of Jerusalem, as we begin Holy Week, the Way to Resurrection.
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