Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?”
Not too far from St. Monica is a little protestant Church that has a big sign that reads: “Jesus is Alive! The tomb is empty!” I said to myself, “Why so soon? Not yet. Not yet.” Why do we all want to rush through Holy Week? For example, on Holy Tuesday, the little kids had their annual Easter egg hunt. Again, I said to myself, “What’s the rush? We have seven weeks to celebrate Easter. Why are we having an Easter egg hunt now, in Holy Week?” Because we don't know how to love. We rush it! Of course there is nothing wrong with Easter egg hunts and I’m not suggesting we cancel this event, regardless of overzealous parents. But I do believe we need to do things in the proper order and at the proper time. This way, even the sacrifices we make form a vital part of the love we make!
Today, we celebrate the Passion of the Lord. Today, we recall what our Lord endured for our sake. But instead of reliving what Christ suffered, let us relive the extent of Christ’s love for us. The reality of suffering has changed little since the dawn of man. Loneliness, betrayal, pain and denial carry the same stigma today as it did before; but loneliness, betrayal, pain and denial suffered for one’s enemies is new and surprising. We have always understood the value of sacrificing for one’s friends; but we are even more amazed when one sacrifices for one’s enemies.
My concern is that if we don’t celebrate Holy Week correctly, then we won’t celebrate the Lord’s resurrection fully. When I went to the Holy Land, we walked the path that our Lord walked. We prayed the Stations of the Cross where our Lord carried His cross. Now, most of you know that finding a quiet place to pray the Stations of the Cross is next to impossible, but if you don’t know this, let me tell you: praying the Stations in Jerusalem is impossible. But I am sure that what we experienced is what the Lord experienced: indifference and noise. I believe we prayed The Way of the Cross the way the Lord lived it. And it was refreshing! It was actually very exhilarating because it was illuminating! So many times I wanted to give up and say to our group, “This is stupid! It’s ridiculous. No one is paying any attention to us. It’s like we don’t even exist! No one is making room for us. Enough! Let’s get out of here!” But then it dawned on me. For the first time in my life I realized how much more meaningful love coupled with sacrifice is; how Love is particularly powerful when there are no strings attached to it! And there are no strings attached to Christ. Following the Lord does not make us more popular, or wealthier, or healthier. It makes us more like him.
What is truth? What is certain in life and in death? Friends? Family? Spouse? I don’t think so. Life as so far demonstrated to me that all of the above are as fickle as the weather. They come and go like flowers; they are as unreliable as a promise. They are here today and gone tomorrow. What is certain in life and death? The only true answer is: the love of Jesus Christ.
He said to them, “I AM.” What exactly is the Lord’s Passion? It is his unfailing, unconditional and unassuming love for us. No one, neither Pilate nor Judas, forced the Lord to do what he had to do. He did it himself. He forced himself. No one took his life. He laid it down for us. The Lord may have been led away in chains, but he never left our side. While He was stripped of his skin, we never got under his skin. Pilate had the power to nail the Lord to a cross, but it was the Lord that nailed himself to us. “I will be with you till the end of time.” Pilate took everything away from Jesus, but he could never take love away from Him. He could never take the Cross away from Him. That cross represents much more than the sins of the world. United to love, it represents sacrifice.
We would know very little about God if it were not for the words and the works of His Son, Jesus Christ. We would know nothing of what is important if it were not for the Son of God. God answered his critics before any of them ever existed. How can we know God? God is spirit. God is totally different. God cannot be known. To which I reply, “Ah…hello? Hello there…Knock knock…where have you been for the past two thousand years!” We do know God. We do know him by name: Jesus Christ. Christ is the great “I AM”. I AM here. I AM love. I AM in love with you. I AM dying for you. I AM with you. I AM always with you.
Of course we all wish it could have been different. But this is what we did. These are the brutal facts. On the outside we arrested him, beat him and crucified him. But like a bride’s veil, the beauty resides beneath the facts. For this reason, the greatest symbol of Christian marriage, of love, is the Cross.
Christ nailed to the Cross is a perfect reminder to all of us that there can be no love without sacrifice. Joined together is Perfect Love (Christ) nailed to the ultimate sacrifice (Cross); and the two become one, as man and wife become one. And when does the Lord come down from the Cross? Till death do us part. From the side of Jesus came forth his bride the Church. From the side of Adam came forth his bride, Eve.
You see, hidden behind the veil of the crucifix is a never ending love story. And these are the facts: The Lord gave himself so that He could save us. He was beaten by us so that He could forgive us. He was crucified by us so that He could love us.
Jesus Christ revealed to the entire world what we now know for certain: God loves, forgives and gives.