Arms stretched open

What does Holy Week mean to you?  Is it significant or insignificant?  When you hear the Passion, do you feel remorseful or sad?  What are your feelings when you see the crucifix Easter Sunday?

After hearing the Passion several times during the week and reading “No Greater Love”, a realization of Jesus’ endurance to accomplish all God had in store for Him hits the core of the soul.  Even during His final hours, He was still accomplishing God’s Will through teaching, fulfillment of prophecy, conversion and ministry.

The greatest realization that hit me this week as the crucifix was veiled, is what is revealed in the crucifix once it will be unveiled Easter Sunday when we celebrate the risen Jesus.  When Jesus was nailed to the cross and crucified, His arms were stretched open.  This is likely typical of crucifixion during the time period.  The significance to me that I have been meditating on that I want to share is on this cross, Jesus, in His final hours is inviting me and you to the cross.  His arms are open, waiting to embrace us with the love that He demonstrated for us during His crucifixion.  After venerating the cross, knowing that a cross similar to this cross, my Lord suffered for me and you, I was reminded of all the sins that I nailed to His cross.  Yet His arms are wide open, inviting me to forgiveness, to repent and to receive Him completely.

There are times in my life and perhaps yours, when life hits and I fall slowly away from God.  It starts with my time.  Something comes up when I planned to sit down and pray and I say, “I’ll get to it later.”  Something else comes up and before I know it a lot of these SOMETHING ELSE pops up and I haven’t spent a minute in prayer.  Other things continue to creep in filling my day and eventually I begin to feel lost and less connected to God.

I think Holy Week helps put this in perspective.  It highlights my relationship with God, where it has been, when it has been fruitful and when it has been barren.  I think this is the compass that helps me to look up and see Jesus’ arms wide open inviting me to be embraced by Him, to a deeper, loving relationship with Him.

I don’t know your story, but I do believe that everyone has a story.  Some of you may have fallen away from the Church, away from God completely.  You may have been seriously wounded and felt abandoned by God.  You may have hurt someone deeply yourself and feel remorseful but unable to move forward towards forgiveness.  You may have sought answers or asked for prayers that went unanswered.  Or you may have lost a loved one and felt God abandoned them so why should you continue in a relationship with Him.  Whatever your story, know that God did send His only son, fully human and fully divine, to walk among His people, to suffer and die for them.  Them – being YOU and ME.  His son was nailed to a cross, displayed for all to see with His arms stretched open.  No matter your circumstance, He is inviting you to come to Him, to let Him embrace you, to pour out His mercy, love and compassion and help you carry your crosses.

Have a very Blessed EASTER.

white flowers
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Is Love Always Happy?

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What is love?  Is it always happy or is it sometimes sad?  Yesterday, I witnessed several acts of love.  I heard the passion of our Lord and witnessed a cross about the size of the “True Cross” process into our church and then I watched hundreds of people, in reverence of our Lord and His love for us, kneel down to kiss this cross.  This was a demonstration of love from our community to our Lord for His sacrifice and His sacrifice was an act of His love for us.  It is a great example of mutual sacrifice of oneself for another.

So I think the answer is that love is not always happy.  Many years ago, I heard this very thing at a counselling session with my ex-husband.  My ex proceeded to tell the counsellor that God is love and He did not want us to not be happy.  The counsellor looked at him and said “Jesus died on the cross that was love, but it wasn’t happy”.  You see that very act is a model for us that love is not about our happiness but about what we do for others, about our actions.  That is what Jesus demonstrated for us when He died for us.  He showed us what love is, sacrificing oneself for another.  This is the love we should each practice daily with everyone we encounter, especially our family.

Yesterday, I came across a note my daughter wrote several years ago.  She called it “Mom Love”.  In her note she pronounced how much she loved me.  She also mentions the ways that I show love to her by helping her through difficult times and encouraging her.  It’s the small acts of kindness that we show one another that reveals our love to one another.  It’s not our own feelings of happiness but how we nurture another and sacrifice our own needs for another.  So as you reflect on the crucifixion today, the day before the resurrection, think about the act of love Jesus modeled for us by sacrificing Himself and how you can make sacrifices in your life to love others, not just your family and friends but the stranger next to you.