Homily for Mass – Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa
Saturday 31 March 2012 – 4.15pm
[Readings: Is 50:4-7; Ps 22; Philippians 2:6-11; Mk 14:1 – 15:47]
“Time disappears when someone we love is dying. Day cedes to night without much notice. Activities we have promised to do we discard instead, … Routines we never break cease. Something else has taken our attention, is sitting on our brain, has bound our legs and lowered our head. Nothing else is important but this person who gave meaning to our life and whose threatened passing wicks away the confidence that hitherto steadied our days. …” (Paul Turner, Glory in the Cross: Holy Week in the Third Edition of The Roman Missal, Collegeville, Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 2011, p. xv.).
In a real sense, this is what the coming days that we call Holy Week should be like for us. Our lives are different precisely because of Jesus Christ, and what he has done for us. And so this coming week is a special week for Christians, as we spiritually journey with Jesus in that pivotal time of his passion, death and resurrection.
So I invite you to allow this coming week to be different! Allow yourself to set aside things you would normally do. Break your normal routine. There are 51 other weeks of the year to do what you normally do: let this week, Holy Week, be different to every other week. We have here in the Cathedral on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm the beautiful Chrism Mass. And then here and in all the parishes, the special liturgies of Holy Thursday evening, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil and Sunday Masses. Let Christ capture your attention this week. Live this coming week in such a way that other people realize that “there really is something different going on this week!”
This week is not just about an historical re-enactment, though. It’s much more than that. Through the Liturgies of Holy Week, as we recall past events, those events become present events, here and now. Through the liturgies we enter into what is being celebrated. And we enter into them not merely as spectators, but we enter into them as being our mysteries.
We are called to be united with Christ so that when we gather at the table of his supper, we realize that we are to give our lives (our body and blood) in service of others. When we are facing trials, even terrors, as Jesus faced in the garden of Gethsemane, we are to throw ourselves down before God and pray that his will be done, not ours. We are called to take up our cross – manfully – and not to hide from or run away from the cross in our life. When we are crucified by the actions of others, we are to learn to say “Father, forgive them, they know not what we do.” And, most importantly, the promise made for fidelity to God’s will is resurrection! New life, eternal life, is ours. We gain the victory over sin, and ultimately over death, in Christ! There can’t be any better news than that!
As we live Holy Week, in a sense we’re living in microcosm the whole of our lives, and we’re opening ourselves to all that God wants to give to us, and claiming all that Christ has gained for us when he lived faithfully his life, passion, death and resurrection.
Friends, lets ask God to help us enter fully into this sacred time so that it’s graces may abundantly flow in us. Let’s ask Our Lady of Sorrows, who stayed always close to her son, to obtain for us the grace of total commitment, the grace to say “yes” completely to the will of God in our lives.