Friday, April 2, 2010

Therefore let us keep the feast

When I was a kid, I found myself baffled by the idea of eating crackers and grape juice to remember the crucifixion. Really, I wanted to tell the adults, if remembering is the goal, then surely we could come up with better ways to remind ourselves. Even when I pondered the connection between the Jewish Passover customs and Christ’s death as our Passover Lamb, communion didn’t quite make sense. Why would we eat the things that remind us of Jesus? Isn’t that a bit disrespectful? (I was a bit of an odd, overly-pensive child, I’ll freely admit!)

Holy Week in Rome is a bit too heavy for me to sort into short and pithy posts, but I can at least say that with a Sacramental understanding of, well, of the Sacraments, there is nothing more beautiful than the idea of eating Jesus. Christ entered our world not just spiritually, but physically; Christ enters the sanctuary not just spiritually, but physically; Christ enters us not just spiritually, but physically. Just as he comes to heal our broken souls, he comes physically to nourish our needy bodies. Just as we receive the whole of Christ, he receives the whole of us, bodies and all.

Receiving the whole of Christ, of course, is not only wonderful; it is offensive (and until I saw true evil at work, I never realized how offensive its redemption can be). As I mentioned once before, it is not a mere matter of “trading our sorrows” for his joy. We enter with him into his suffering as Mary and John and the daughters of Jerusalem did on Good Friday. We embrace it willingly, as Christ who prayed “Lord if it be possible let this cup pass from me, but not my will but yours be done.” In a Catholic Good Friday service, we even embrace it physically as the congregation processes to the cross and kisses it.

It is because our sufferings are united with his (wholly, sacramentally, physically) that Christ can tell his followers who will mostly all be martyred one day, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Christ has prepared the way through suffering into resurrection...

...but I am getting ahead of the story. Tonight, suffering is not to be triumphed over; it is only to be embraced.


Anne said...

Wonderful post!
Love this!

Christian H said...

"Tonight, suffering is not to be triumphed over; it is only to be embraced."

Amen. It is so tempting to race forward to the resurrection, to say to ourselves, "This all matters because of what comes next, which is..."; what we need to remember, though, is that what comes next also matters because of what is now, suffering, into which we are called. While Good Friday without Easter is tragic and absurd, Easter without Good Friday is also meaningless.