Friday, April 10, 2009

The Day That Changed the World

My title was inspired by the EWTN Holy Week theme, "The Week That Changed the World".

I belong to that group of people who still choose to remember what was so Good about that Friday. I believe I need to hear what happened when "that Man" died on the cross, again and again. When my father handed me the novel "The Little Prince" when I was a freshman in high school, he told me that it was a book I would love to read repeatedly, for each time I would open it, I would gain a fresh new insight and thus would appreciate it more. What was true for the novel was even more significant for the Gospel.

Each year, the Church goes through Lent, and does not jump to Easter, and a lot of people wonder what is the point of reliving something that had happened in the past. So what if somebody died by crucifixion? Tons of men went through that during Roman times. So what if Jesus rose from the dead, and His teachings, which He spread in a matter of three years only, have stood the test of time? What does that mean for me?

A friend of mine commented on why I was fasting from certain things for 40 days, and said that I was being so "old school" (if you're reading this, I'm sorry for using this as an example, but your comment stayed with me for several days, and this blog is kind of my response to you). To have less of the world, and have more of the Lord? That should never be old school; at least not for a Christian. Hearing about the passion and death of Christ is not just meant to instill guilt on my already worrisome nature, but I do it in order to remember what He has done for me. He is the one who changed my life in a moment (pardon the reference to that popular song-turned-movie). By dying on the cross, He gave me an opportunity to conquer the sin in my life, and to be with Him, and the Father, in paradise.

It may sound so grand and fantastic, but in real terms, pondering about Christ's sufferings shows me that there is nothing impossible for God, and one who loves that much cannot withhold anything good from me. Staring at Christ's image on the cross instills in my heart that there is more I can do for the world, more love I can give, more time I can spare, more resources I can share, than what I already am doing. Good Friday reminds me that the world does not revolve around me, and my destination is not just this world, but heaven, where I can be with Jesus, The One who shed blood, endured mocking, and embraced suffering for my sake.

Unless I have a personal encounter with Jesus this week, I will always be a spectator of this magnificent story. I will remain distant and choose to be unaffected by the lashings and the beatings that He went through. Now, after attending the Lenten Recollection, Time of Confession, Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Seven Last Words, the Veneration of the Cross, and the Good Friday procession, my soul's thirst is quenched, enough to last me through another year. Knowing that my Lord and Savior came down for me, as promised, and broke the bondage of sin and death by rising on the third day, works to strengthen me for my own crosses and challenges.

I thirst and I cry, like our Lord on his last hour. How he must thirst for our presence, when we enter the church this week, cross ourselves, and leap outside almost instantaneously. How he must love God the Father, that even amidst His suffering He cries out to Him, knowing that He is near, and is able to hear His cry.

I ask also that in my life, suffering be eliminated. I am always said to be living in my dream world, wishing for perfection before allowing myself to be happy. But since Jesus drank the cup, I shall accept and embrace what is being offered to me now, because I have seen Jesus triumphant, fulfilling everything that was promised from the beginning. What then, could cause me to doubt and fear?

It is easy now, when all is silent, and temptation is far away, but I also know that once back in the normal routine of life, I would be beset by struggles, and I would doubt. Therefore I need faith. Therefore I need to remember. Therefore I need to believe.

When I went to confession last Wednesday, my confessor asked me whether I would choose to live a life worthy of my calling, or whether I would choose a life of sin. I looked beyond him, to the cross in front of us, and made my yes to Jesus. "Yes, Lord, I will choose you." I had said that before, as my confessor knows, and yet I did sin again. But after this week of remembrance, I remembered that through the Holy Spirit, I would not have to give up, and I could hope to be free from suffering and sin.

Easter Sunday, a day of chocolates and eggs for some, becomes the fresh morning that erases all my dark nights, because I walked with Christ through Lent, especially this Holy Week. His coming bursts forth within my heart. His sacrifice, and His triumph, is more real, more tangible, and more accessible for me.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. I choose to go with the seasons, for the fruits, when properly ripened, are simply much sweeter.

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