As we continue the reflection and celebration on the Easter Triduum, I would like to include several reflections from my favorite resources.
First, is from David Backes, Professor, Deacon, author and owner of the outstanding blog New Wood. Set forth below is an excerpt of Professor Backes’ reflection for this week but I encourage you to check out his blog here as it also includes wonderful statements from Paul’s Letter to the Romans and The Way of the Cross by St. Teresa of Avila.
The wood of the cross symbolizes, among other things, our destruction of nature in our quest for power, domination, and material status. A tree, torn down, and used for purposes of death rather than life. Nature carries the cross of suffering, and shares in the hope of transformation. The wood of the cross shows both aspects of this: the wood of suffering becomes the throne of glory, and it also stands as an invitation. Christ invites us to follow the same holy way of fulfillment by making the cross part of our very identity, which means identifying with the poor, the lonely, and all those who suffer, human and otherwise. The cross is the safest way to the true heart of Christ, and therefore the safest way to ultimate fulfillment.
The second reflection, also from David Backes, is from a Homily Professor Backes gave three years ago on Good Friday talking about Mother Teresa and the cry of “I Thirst” by Jesus on the Cross. The full homily can be found here, but set forth below is an excerpt:
“What Mother Teresa experienced that day on the train was our Lord’s incredible thirst. Yes, he thirsts for justice, for all those who are marginalized, for the lonely, the suffering, for those who cry out to Him with their own thirst for hope and love. Mother Teresa experienced the depths of this thirst, and that alone would have been enough to change her life. But underlying all that is an even deeper thirst, and she experienced this, too. There, on the cross, Jesus looks at every single one of us, calls our name, and says, “I thirst.”
He thirsts for each one of us, and we are the only ones who can quench that part of his thirst. Jesus showed Mother Teresa a scene of a large crowd, covered in darkness. It was a sea of anguish, and in the midst of it was Jesus, on the cross. The only light shone down from above onto the cross, and from the cross itself. The people were unaware that Jesus was right there with them, not only sharing in their suffering but turning it into seeds of resurrection.”
Finally, is an excerpt from the Living Space reflection by the Irish Jesuits. The reflection talks about four points, including the significance of the tearing of the Temple veil in two upon Jesus’ death (the division between God and humanity is eliminated), the history and meaning of blood sacrifice and the transformative psychological impact of the Cross as described by St. Paul. You can find the full reflection here, but set forth below is an excerpt:
“For so many centuries people have been spilling blood to get to God. But in the crucifixion it is reversed - God spills his own blood to reach out to us. This is to take away our old fear, that by spilling blood we try to appease an angry God. There is no such thing as an angry God – only an unconditionally loving God.
Paul tells us that Jesus emptied himself. He emptied himself of all egoism, of all anger, fear and anxiety, of all human dignity in the sight of others. He let go of everything and because he did so, he was fully taken up in union with his Father. For us it has to be the same. Our lives are so tied up with all kinds of concerns, desires, ambitions, fears and anxieties. We need to remove these blocks and just let go.
To break down the barriers separating us from total union with the Source and Goal of all being. The Way is shown clearly in the Gospel and most of all in the Way of the Cross– leading to resurrection, new life and ascension, union with God in Christ. Paul was very close to it when he said: “I live, no not I, but Christ lives in me.” (emphasis in original)