In the plan of salvation, the mystery of the coming of Jesus in the flesh marks the beginning of the fullness of time. Our humanity in all its conditions is totally anointed and wedded in Christ without reservation, even in death. Now we approach the central “moment” in the mystery, the “hour” toward which everything before it was moving. Even the saving words and deeds of Jesus were simply foreshadowings and signs pointing to the defining event about to unfold. The suffering, death and resurrection of the Paschal Mystery, properly understood as one overarching event in the celebrations of Holy Week, constitute the decisive “hour” when the mystery defines itself into the event of salvation, where the covenant between heaven and earth is sealed, once and for all.
We begin with Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper, where Jesus alone knows what is to follow. Within hours Jesus is arrested and he refuses to resist. When he is whipped, condemned, and crucified, he forgives his executioners. He does not attack the sinner, rather, he wants the sinner to live. Jesus is attacking death itself, and his sole weapon is the nonviolent witness of divine Love. For this he passes through the paschal tragedy of deceit, hatred, and annihilation. Then suddenly, late in the “hour,” he is not where he should be. The tomb is empty. Jesus is resurrected. The mystery unfolds in joy.
"Our humanity in all its conditions is totally anointed and wedded in Christ without reservation, even in death."
Only he who is Light could assume our part, taking on human mortality, entering the thickest darkness of death, and sealing God’s offer of salvation for those who enter into the mystery of the “hour”, seeing, believing, and accepting the gift. Jesus did this only for us!
At the core of every human event, at the bottom of every human heart, there is a dark night of suffering, pain, and rupture. The human person cannot dissipate this darkness without outside help. It can only be healed by divine Love. That is why the cross shines forth in the darkest moment of this “hour.” The cross shines forth and spreads its healing veil over all who will embrace its loving mystery. For we who are sinners, once lost, are redeemed. As we will hear in the Easter Vigil proclamation, the darkness of night is scattered, and the brilliance of the new day has dawned. Jesus is alive, the throne of God and the throne of the Lamb are united, and the Kingdom of God gushes forth as Living Water. All promises fulfilled!
"The cross shines forth and spreads its healing veil over all who will embrace its loving mystery. For we who are sinners, once lost, are redeemed."
The powerful liturgies of the coming Holy Week are divine invitations for renewal. While human history contains only “dead” events of the past, the “hour” ahead will always be true, alive, and will never die. In the week to come, let the past be the past, look to the cross, walk with Jesus, and open your mind, heart, and soul. The road to grace is open. The “hour” approaches!
+Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg
Bishop of Pueblo
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