Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

PALM SUNDAY REFLECTION

CRUCIFIED AND CROWNED
  
IS THERE ANYONE who has not felt betrayed or wounded by a relative or friend at some time? If we have, can we recall what our feelings were at that time? Perhaps we can; very easily. Maybe because the hurt has never really gone away and we have not yet forgiven the person responsible. If we think that those who have wronged us have a case to answer, what about all the offences committed against God and against His justice and goodness? Day after day, on our screens and in our papers, crimes against humanity and the blasphemies against God and His holy ones confront us and condemn those responsible. 

BLASPHEMERS will say that if there is a God He should have better things to do than feel offended. They say this unaware that every beat of their hearts is a work of His love. Unrepentant evil-doers defy God and pile on crime upon crime unmindful of the consequences and heedless of the thought of judgement. Millions, who should be in church each week and will hardly enter it on Easter Sunday, will instead trace their steps to the exclusive pursuit of pleasure in all its forms, hardly sparing a thought for the welfare of their souls. 

SHOULD we take refuge in cynicism and indifference because of all this? Though there have been times when our society was less fractured and less steeped in materialism, there has always been in some other parts of the world, a framework of oppression or of heathen systems of social engagement. Centuries ago, while Europe was enjoying a golden age of faith, there was savagery on other continents. But it was unknown to most in Europe. Now, the distribution of communication and technology makes it possible for us to see instantly the misery of others and challenges both our faith in God as well as our obsession with our own convenience. It is hard to be a Christian now but Calvary can help us to make sense of the confusion.

THE Cross is the answer to those who say: Why does God allow wickedness and cruelty?  Why does he appear to do nothing? Whether it is the effrontery of those who mock and attack Christianity or the outrage of those who commit terrible crimes against the innocent, we sometimes wonder why it all goes unpunished and unchecked. We have our answer in the Gospel of the Passion. 

THERE is no outrage to equal the murder of God’s own Son.  But He died for a purpose and that purpose continues in time and space until the end of time. No sin and no sinner has been overlooked or ignored by God. From Original Sin to the last offence against divine justice and goodness at the end of time, God has seen and dealt with it all. We don’t call Jesus our Saviour as a casual tribute to a familiar name from our Catholic past. We hail Him as our Saviour because that is what He is, not just in the past, but now and in all the time to come. 

WHEN He died on the Cross, He personified more than an historic example of earthly injustice, paying with his life for a crime of which He was totally innocent. In fact He paid for all the crimes ever committed or to be committed in the universe. He is the universal and only scapegoat for everything. Because of being utterly uncontaminated in any way by sin, He could represent the innocent who die unjustly and by accepting the blame for all the guilty He endured punishment on their behalf so that they might go free, if they wish to.  

PEOPLE blame God for just about everything that goes wrong in our world. Don’t they know that He has accepted the blame, 2000 years ago, as though it really was His. Yes we can rage at misfortune and disappointment but do we realise that it is as nothing compared to the disappointment and misfortune accepted by God’s only Son. 

WHO feels misunderstood; a victim of prejudice or bias; betrayed by loved ones; let down by society; rejected though acting in good faith; deprived of freedom though innocent; deprived of life and thought worthless and unfit to live? God in Christ has suffered all these things. Among His own people He showed nothing but truth, love and healing, even challenging to seek repentance with their own teachings and rules the hardness of the Jewish leaders. In the end they turned on Him and killed Him. Because, they did not want the Kingdom into which He sought to welcome them. All who are on the side of truth, he said, listen to my voice. But those held in the grip of self-righteous slavery to greed and avarice were not on the side of truth. His words and His presence were a constant reproach to them.


TODAY, there are still many who are not interested in His Kingdom because it does not represent or fulfil their prejudices, their pretensions or their pursuits. They don’t know or care that He died for them also. So, though we may deplore and condemn the nature of ingratitude and sinful living as well as the abuse of God’s own gifts, we must pray for those who are blind to the reality of their sins and of the justice and mercy of God. We have the example of Christ before us, who prayed “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.  He said that, of His own creatures, even as they put Him to death. 

WHAT more could God do for us that He has not done and why are we often so slow to appreciate His goodness?  Because even with all He has done He will not compel any of us to turn to Him. It is because He is a God of freedom as well as generosity that people can choose whether to accept or reject his bounty. As well as freedom to live in this world, God has also bestowed on his creatures freedom to choose. It is a most precious gift because it allows us to love God and our neighbour without compulsion of any kind. Only a gift which is given freely reflects genuine affection. God’s gift to us of Himself and of forgiveness, through the cross, has no equal and is entirely unmerited by us. Just as in the past that gift has been the means of rescue and recovery to so many other Christian souls who have gone before us, so it is as freely available to us. 

MAY we stand on this coming Good Friday with Our Lady, Mary Magdalen and St John at the foot of the cross and show love for our crucified King, who asks nothing of us but our love and gives us everything that is worthwhile. May His cross be our hope and His wounds be our healing.

Hosanna, Filio David!