Friday, March 29, 2013

"Profess Christ Crucified"

I am the sacristan in my community of 50 or so Jesuits at Marquette University. That means I am busy these days preparing the chapel for the various celebrations. Today I also presided at our community's Good Friday Service.  Since the proclamation of the Passion is long and really speaks for itself, I kept my homily brief and ended it by quoting Pope Francis.

At the beginning of the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius has us imagine the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity looking out over the world and at suffering humanity lost in sin.  How will this beloved creature made in God's own image and likeness, made for union with God, be saved?  St. Ignatius has us imagine the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and his birth in Bethlehem. The Son chose to humble and empty himself, becoming a man, sharing our life and our death. Throughout the Exercises of the Second Week, we are called to be close to Jesus, to follow him, and to labor with him for the salvation of humanity.

Baptism joins us to Christ and makes us one with him in this work. The evangelical counsels of consecrated persons configure them more closely to Christ poor, chaste, and obedient; to Christ humble, self-emptying, and sacrificing.  The motivation for this is love--the love of the Blessed Trinity which did not abandon humanity in its sin, the love revealed on a cross. We are called on this day in a special way to share the love of God for suffering humanity.

In our Good Friday Service we venerate the cross. But before doing so, we look out on the world from that cross. We see the world with Christ's eyes. We love lost and suffering humanity with Christ's Heart.  We pray for all people, bringing them with us to the cross where Christ died for us all.  A Church council in the year 853, which is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #606, stated: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer." He suffered and died and save all, no one excluded.

Then, after the veneration of the cross, we receive Holy Communion. We are joined with Christ so that we carry in our bodies his death and resurrection. United to Christ, we carry the cross, the sign of God's love for all, the sign of the lengths to which God goes to save us. Not all people know this, nor have all accepted it.  We carry the cross to them when we love them and lay down our lives for them so that they may accept the salvation Christ won for them and be saved.

In the closing words of his homily at the Mass he celebrated with the cardinals who had just elected him, Pope Francis said:

"When we journey without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly: we may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

"My wish is that all of us, after these days of grace, will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.

"My prayer for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother, will grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ crucified. Amen."

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