Quinquagesima Sunday 15.2.15 Remembering
During the week (12th Feb) we had the feast of the seven founders of the Servite order.
They lived in the 13th century and went off to isolated places to contemplate the sufferings of Our Lord on the Cross, and of Our Lady at the foot of the Cross.
These are not things that people do every day. If you said to someone today that you were going off to contemplate the sufferings of Our Lord they would probably think you were crazy.
Yet it is something we all should be doing, if not to the same extent as monks and hermits, at least to the degree that it makes an effect on our lives.
We have all sorts of memorials in our world – acknowledging such things as wars and battles, new discoveries, important people and events. The hope is that we can learn a useful lesson from each memory, and where possible, apply what we have learnt.
Of all past events which need remembering and applying, the death of Christ stands alone.
As to learning lessons there are many from this event:
One, a lesson of gratitude. We have to be grateful that His death has atoned for our sins, and opened the gate of Heaven.
Two, we learn that greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends. A teaching which is reinforced in today’s epistle (1 Cor 13): that love is essentially sacrificial, an outwards movement from self to others.
Three, we learn not to try to tell God what to do. The apostles tried to discourage Our Lord from going to the Cross. This was the natural human reaction, which we probably would have done too - but it was not the right reaction.
The apostles did not understand that Our Lord was saving us by His death, which indeed is not the normal way of solving problems.
Four, we learn from the gravity of the event the damage our own sins do, and so repent.
How can we see the sufferings Our Lord received and not be moved to true sorrow?
With the Cross we are facing something beyond our full understanding. We can understand the general idea that God loves us enough to do this for us. But to understand it in our hearts as well as our minds is not so easy.
We will get better at understanding as we are immersed in it. With constant repetition, returning to the scene, we hope to deepen our understanding and response. Our eyes will be opened, the eyes of our souls.
Every Mass, every crucifix, will be a chance to remember a little more firmly each time.
And we have also the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, the practice of self-denial… all to drive home this point.
Also Lent and Holy Week. We must not think that because we know the story we can skip over it.
Some Christians ignore the crucifix because - they reason - Christ has risen, so there is no reason to dwell on His death.
But as we see, His death does need a great deal of dwelling on. The Servites left their riches and gave their whole lives to the task. If someone is remembering it makes up for all those who forget; and our own forgetting. The full meaning will dawn on us someday.
So we relive these events at every Mass, and call them to mind at other times.
The more people remembering the less people sinning. The more we grasp the Cross, the more certainly we rise from death.