Monday, April 10, 2017

One Week, One Hour, One Cup, One Drop at a Time...

Each year we return to Holy Week, in the hopes of opening our hearts to a more personal appropriation of the mystery of God's saving love.  What if we dared to ask the for one special grace this Holy Week, namely, a deeper appreciation of Christ's passion and death?

If we ask for eyes to see and ears to hear, as we journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, we will become more active participants in the Week that changed the world. At the center of this Week is the Hour for which Jesus was born--the Hour He patiently awaited and humbly embraced as the will of the Father. And at the heart of this Hour is His Cup of suffering, the "blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:28).

What if we received this Cup anew, as if for the first time? What if we let our daily sufferings be joined to and transformed by Jesus' self-emptying gift?

If we dare to celebrate the fact that the Lord freely laid down his life once for all, we should confidently ask for the grace to walk with Jesus as He personally fills the Cup for each of us.  Let's pray that the Lord will open our hearts to follow the flow of Jesus' blood, which defines the Hour, determines the Week and redeems the World:
  • A Newly Consecrated Garden: "He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground" (Lk 22:44).  How is it possible that Jesus' blood should flow so soon after the intimate sharing of the Last Supper? Was the Garden of Gethsemane ever the same again, as the Lord's blood cried out from the ground?
  • A Striking Arrest: " of the temple guards standing there stuck Jesus and said, 'Is this the way you answer the high priest'?" (Jn 18:22). Is this guard the first person to have Jesus' blood on his hands?  Did he ever look at that hand the same way again? Would I?
  • A Condemned yet Absolving Innocence: Pilate exclaims, "I am innocent of this man's blood," while the crowd cries out, "His blood be upon us and upon our children" (Mt 27:24-25). Can we really sidestep the issue of the death of the Innocent One, or claim authority over the life one condemned? Whenever we have failed to defend the innocent or championed the destruction of our enemies, aren't we already unknowingly crying out for the Blood of the Lamb to save us?
  • A Scourged and Stripped Testimony: "They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head...and kept striking him on the head" (Mt 27:28-31). Bloodlust drives each step toward the Crucifixion. But what happened to Jesus' clothes or to the military cloak which absorbed the coagulated blood from his wounds? After Easter, did the disciples try to gather these up as relics of the Sacrifice, or did the faithful women who walked with the Blessed Mother already know their infinite value? Will I let any of the Lord's blood be shed and then wasted?
  • A Pierced Second Person and Lanced Lord: The blood dripped off the three nails, with Mary and John standing below and a heavenly host of Angels alongside.  After Jesus was already dead, " soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out" (Jn 19:34). Blood and water have been showered on Jesus followers ever since. Can I accept a God who laid down his life for me not because I was righteous, but precisely because I am a sinner?

The Week and the Hour and the Cup contain all the healing and forgiveness we need, all the peace and love for which we long, as well as all the confidence we lack in the face of so much death and dying. One Drop at a time.

O Blood and Water,
which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus
as a fountain of Mercy for us,
I trust in You!