Good Friday: An Open Heart

This is the great day of mercy in which the reality of daily life finds its true meaning in the commemoration of the event which is at the center of all history.  The preoccupation with “reality” as we know is no longer the focus of our attention.  The narcissism of relating everything to ourselves cannot endure the gaze of the Crucified.  It is though we must now focus a camera on the background instead of the subject.  The unfortunate reality is that we are too often focused on ourselves, even in religious matters. Religious experience and not the service of God and his people is too often the object of our quest.

The oxymoron of “reality tv” is a profanation of the humane.  The self-indulgent staging of life must stop in the face of today’s reality.  It is the reality of what our sins do to God.  It is the reality of what the Love of God does for us poor sinners.  The “big reveal” is symbolized by the unveiling of the Crucifix:

Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Savior of the World.

Come let us adore. Continue reading

The Measure

Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.  Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you (Lk 6:36-38, today’s gospel reading for the ordinary form of the Mass).

Banal and mushy catechesis has led many of us to explain passages like this away in the interests of defending the right and duty to think critically. And, of course, we should resist the sentimentalist accusation of “being judgmental” as we strive to discern right from wrong.  But explaining away Our Lord’s words is no good either, nor is limiting our exegesis to describing what Our Lord is not saying, namely, that God is the big teddy bear in the sky and everyone is going to heaven.

The fact is that Our Lord is the only one who is in position to judge and we really have very little to complain about when we compare the injustices done to us to those done to Him.  Our Lord measures by the length of His arms on the cross.  When He says: Forgive them for they know not what they do (Lk 23:34), the appropriate response for us is to put our hand over our mouth (cf. Job 40:40).

We hold our neighbor to all kinds of standards that we don’t keep ourselves. We have much more “righteous” indignation about the faults and sins of others than we do about the true honor of God.  What is more pathetic, sometimes we are blind to the truth of it.  We have a million excuses.

We can cry for justice, but when at the last judgment Our Lord extends His wounded hands over the cosmos and over the living and the dead, we will all be reduced to silence.  Then after we all finally realize the truth of things we will cry for mercy, but then mercy will have passed.  Then there will be justice and only justice.  Now is time for mercy and we should cry for it now, and above all, we should show it.

That is Our Lord’s measure.  May it be ours as well.