“They take everything from us, but they cannot take the God from our hearts. They cannot.” (Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf, Syriac Orthodox Church, Iraq)
In the midst of the Triduum, we are aligning our hearts and souls with the sufferings of Jesus. Perhaps reflecting upon biblical torments has more profound meaning today with the war in Ukraine, the persecution of Christians throughout the world, and the destruction of our heritage in many countries. Fortunately, we still have the wisdom of our saints and saintly leaders to guide our response:
“More than ever, amid the painful events of the war, let us seek support in the words of Holy Scripture, in communing alone with God. …. Assuredly you cannot be disinterested in the grave events passing beneath your eyes nor be absorbed in a kind of contemplation which would make you forget everything else. No. Look at Jesus Christ. He shed tears over Jerusalem, His native country. And why? Because He foresaw for it evils identical to those now overwhelming us.” (Blessed Marmion)
As an Easter people, the Passion suffering isn’t the end-goal. Rather, it is the path to the resurrection. We have difficulty remembering, understanding or believing this. “Sometimes it’s difficult for us to accept truly good news—perhaps because life has hardened us or turned us into skeptics, or because we are always trying to analyze things and look for the hitch. At those times we wish we had the direct understanding of a child.” (Archbishop Peter Sartain) Pope Francis once spoke of the globalization of indifference. In a 2006 homily, Pope Benedict XVI spoke more directly of how this affects our relationship with God:
“Put simply, we are no longer able to hear God — there are too many different frequencies filling our ears. … Along with this hardness of hearing or outright deafness where God is concerned, we naturally lose our ability to speak with him and to him. And so we end up losing a decisive capacity for perception. We risk losing our inner senses. This weakening of our capacity for perception drastically and dangerously curtails the range of our relationship with reality in general. The horizon of our life is disturbingly foreshortened….”
We risk becoming short-sighted, seeing the world only for the here-and-now rather than the eternal view of God’s. Inner senses and perspective can be regained with concerted effort on our part. These things that have hardened our hearts are our own passion which are sanctified when we align them with Christ’s.
“Having obtained for us the Grace to bear our cross with Him, Christ Jesus likewise grants us to share His glory…For us, as for Him, this glory will be measured by our passion. … Where was it that the Passion of Jesus began? At the foot of the Mount of Olives. There, during three long hours, His blessed soul —foreseeing in the divine light, the sum of afflictions and outrages which were to constitute His sacrifice – was a prey to sadness, weariness, fear, and anguish. We shall never know what poignant agony was undergone by the Son of God in the Garden of Olives. Jesus suffered there in anticipation all of the sorrows of His Passion.” (Blessed Marmion)
In true Hope, we walk with Jesus helping to carry His cross and knowing that it is only through Him that we may one day bask in the light of God’s face. Every small suffering, frustration, or regret is opportunity for relationship with Him.
“Easter is an invitation to take faith seriously, to recommit ourselves to its practice every day. The good news is that each time we do so, and each time we fail but try again, we are taking a step through the door—Jesus Christ—to Heaven.” (Archbishop Peter Sartain)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
Image by Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
This post originally appeared on the Face of Grace Project and is reprinted here with permission.