“All the greatest pains become sweet for whoever looks at Jesus Christ on the Cross.”St. Mary Magdelen of Pazzi
If you were asked what is the greatest story ever told, what would be your answer?
Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day we enter into Jerusalem with Jesus to begin our journey through Holy Week. What we heard in the Gospel reading yesterday was the Passion of Christ, the greatest story ever told.
Why would one contemplate this as the greatest story ever told?
This story is the end and the beginning. It is the way and the light. It is meant for every audience, all inclusive. And best of all, it is a love story.
Yesterday, during the homily at Mass, I was struck by one question.
“During Holy Week will you be the type of person we hear in the Passion that contemplates at the foot of the cross?”
As Father passionately gave his homily, he asked us to contemplate at the foot of the cross the personal impact of Jesus’ suffering for us as an individual. He said there were three types of people in the Passion. There was the indifference person, who doesn’t view Jesus’ death as necessary for him. The person wailing because of the suffering Jesus endured for all of us. And lastly, you have the contemplators at the foot of the cross, that recognize the personal love and suffering for him or her.
The third type recognizes that Jesus died for him or her. They recognize their own personal sin and suffering at the foot of the cross. Not crying for what has been done to Jesus, but embracing what he did for him or her. This person recognizes it was necessary for his salvation. And instead of lamenting over Jesus’ personal suffering, chooses to pick up his own cross, repent of his transgressions and change his ways to completely follow Jesus.
I know when I watch the movie on the Passion, I cringe at each blow Jesus takes. My emotions run high and at times and I shed tears for what he endures. Are those tears for his suffering, his pain, the torture he undergoes? Are they tears for what I have personally done that placed him through this suffering?
Do I ever rejoice in the moment that he did this for me, out of love for me? Do I look at this week as a time of embracing his love versus feeling sad for his suffering? Do I connect my own suffering to his as I sit at the cross and willingly accept my own cross with tears of joy to be part of His plan?
I think the invitation today may be to embrace Holy Week – the service of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the Last Supper, the Way of the Cross and the crucifixion, not with sadness but with joy. To contemplate one day this week in front of a crucifix, the personal invitation that the suffering of Jesus pours into your life through your own resurrection on Easter.
Lord, my Lenten journey is coming to an end as I walk this week alongside Your son through his Passion. May I sit at the foot of the cross, embracing the love you pour out through this week. May my own crosses become sweet as I am lifted up from the foot of the cross rejoicing in what You have done for me.