Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Passion Sunday begins not only the final chapter of Jesus’ public ministry, it also reveals the fulfillment, the final installment of God’s plan which began with his first Covenant with Abraham.
Elements of the Passion which we hear today proclaimed at the Gospel include the same elements of tree, garden, wood of sacrifice, unblemished lamb, bread and wine blessed and broken and poured out, that we see running throughout the story of salvation spanning the beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden, Abraham offering up his only son at Mount Moriah/Jerusalem, and the deliverance of the people of God from death and their liberation from the slavery of Egypt, as the waters of the Red Sea mark their new life, an image we see clearly as a prefiguring of our own Baptism. The law is given, the spousal relationship of God with his people is established and the faithfulness of God is given as the model of the holiness of Man which finds its fullness only in the Communion of Jesus and with Jesus.
The Word of God which took to himself our very human nature, now takes that nature and offers it back to his Father in a gesture that we are unable to accomplish alone, without joining our gift to his.
It is the movement of the Mass, as we begin with the Word who becomes really present, offering himself to the Father, for the sole purpose that we might, as members of his Body, participate in that offering and give ourselves to God.
A sudden shift takes place today as the world which Jesus came to save, shouting “Hosannah!” one minute and “Crucify him!” the next, begins to see the action of salvation unfold. It is a revelation meant for us, that we are not able to dismiss with indifference or allow the business of this week to eclipse. The most sacred events of our salvation will unfold for us, with us, by us this week. We will participate in the Last Supper Holy Thursday night discovering Jesus’ fulfillment of Passover, the institution of Eucharist and priesthood. We will process to the Parish Life Center following Mass as the disciples went with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, until midnight when he will be taken away.
Good Friday from 12 to 3 we gather in meditation and song, listening to the seven last words of Jesus interpreted in preaching and musical selections. Three services follow – listening to the Passion according to John, praying the universal prayers and receiving Communion which was consecrated at the Last Supper Mass the night before. The church is stripped, the altars are bare and the tabernacle is empty: no sacraments are celebrated between 3pm on Good Friday until the moment of resurrection at the Easter Vigil on the following evening because Jesus has died. The world mourns in hope.
At that moment after we have waited in the darkness of the Easter Vigil listening to the story of salvation unfold over generations in seven readings, the Gloria is sung, the joy of new life marks the moment of resurrection and the Church hastens to the font of baptism, the new sacred chrism of confirmation and the bread and wine of the heavenly liturgy of the Lamb of God. The wedding banquet of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem is the celebration of the new communion of Christ and we are commissioned: sent to give what we have received. In a certain and final sense, the Last Supper was the last of it’s kind, redefined by the One who created it in the beginning. The new heavenly liturgy is our source and meaning for life, purpose.
Be sure to enter the Mystery: take your place in the story of salvation as we re-present and re-new the work of God, our new life everyday. Please be certain that you are most warmly welcome to join us for all of these things this week.
God bless you.