Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

22 April 2011

Notes on a Scandal V (Reflections on Holy Week)

This recent series of postings, Notes on a Scandal, is not related to a movie of the same name (which I have never seen and about which I know nothing).  Says St. Paul: "We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (1Co 1:23 NAB).  The Greek word for "stumbling block" is skandalon, whence originates "scandal": something in the path that might cause one to trip.  The Cross of Christ stands unexpectedly in the way of wisdom and strength, but it is precisely where it needs to be in order to demonstrate wherein true wisdom and strength lie: in apparent folly and weakness.

Thus was the Cross unveiled as the deacon processed up the center aisle of the Church, bearing it as our standard.  Our people likewise processed up the aisle to venerate the Cross, not merely as a token of devotion to One who has suffered the shame of crucifixion for us, but also as their pledge to walk that way of foolishness in union with Him.

Shortly after the veneration of the Cross, Holy Communion (consecrated the day before) was distributed to the faithful.  Although it seemed like an afterthought to the Cross, it actually was the (theo)logical thing to do, for how else could we pledge to walk this Way each day of our lives if we didn't receive the power to walk it from the Lord? 

The Self-gift of the Eucharist, made the night before, is ratified in the awesome deed of Calvary.  What Jesus said on Holy Thursday, He did on Good Friday.  It is not unlike the conjugal pledge made in the exchange of vows that now is consummated in the outpouring of the body.  You say that "I give you my all," and I will "hold my breath" until you prove your gift in action, when You, Lord, will take my breath away--a mutual dying, an ecstasy!

A scandal, this Cross, this Eucharist: who would follow a Messiah who claims to lead His people to glory by becoming, in a certain sense, less than us by making Himself not only one of us, but our food and drink?  Who would follow?  The Vigil of Easter soon will reveal, in our parish, seven more persons who would follow this Messiah as members of His Mystical Body.  These men desire and deserve our prayerful support and our steadfast example of what "following this Messiah" really looks like in our day.  Come to the Easter Vigil, and lend that support; be Christians the next day and the day after, and give that example.

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