Friday, April 10, 2009
Behold, the wood of the cross!
There was a young lady who spent much of her young adult life partying. She couldn't hold a job because of her abuse of alcohol and drugs. She caused her family a lot of grief because she would so often come home late or be gone for days at a time. It got to a point that, at still a young age, she had ruined her health and needed a kidney transplant. It turned out that her younger brother was the only match. Now, her younger brother was the exact opposite of her. He worked hard at his studies to make a future for himself. Seeing what drugs and alcohol had done to his older sister, he avoided them. Sometime he felt resentful of his sister for the pain she had caused their parents. But, when he learned that he was the only match for his sister, he did not hesitate, despite the risks, to donate one of his kidneys.
When the day for surgery came, there was a complication. The younger brother had an adverse reaction to the anesthetic and died during the surgery. The doctors were still able to save his kidney and successfully transplant it into his sister. Her brother had given his life to save her. He had so much potential and such a bright future ahead. Yet, he was willing to risk it all to give his sister a second chance at life. When she awoke from the surgery and learned that he had died in the procedure, it changed her life. She had gotten a second chance, and she was determined to make the most of it so that her brother's sacrifice would not be in vain.
Jesus has done the same for us. "He who knew no sin was made sin for us to save us and to restore us to His friendship." God so desired to save us that He did not spare his beloved Son. The cost that Jesus was willing to pay, the price of His blood, tells us two things. First of all, our sinfulness is infinitely offensive to God. Our selfishness, our greed, our lust is disgusting in God's eyes. If our sins were not so grievous, then God could simply wave them off as a fairy godmother might with a swish of her wand. But, it took the spilling of Jesus' blood to cover over the offenses of centuries of human history.
Secondly, and more importantly, Jesus' death teaches us the lengths to which God is willing to go to save us. How passionately God must love us if he is willing to abandon His Son to our savage violence. How our slavery to sin must have agonized the Father that He was willing to pay such a high price to free us from it.
That's why the second reading tells us that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence. Because God was willing to go to such an extreme to give us a second chance at intimacy with Him, how could we not expect to find forgiveness or mercy every time we pray and approach the Sacrament of Penance. No matter how we may have chosen to live our lives to this point, that offer of a second chance is always there for us. God's determination to save us and to have a loving relationship with us is undeterred by our weakness, doubt or sin.
In today's liturgy, we will all line up to kiss the wood of the cross. This is the wood that saved us. This is the wood that frustrated the devil who thought he had succeeded at silencing Jesus and assuring our eternal damnation. This is the wood that gives us a second chance and gives us the confidence to approach God for mercy and peace.
Let us make the most of this day and the most of this opportunity. When we venerate the wood of the cross, let us pledge to live our lives differently so that Jesus' death won't be wasted in our lives. The cross teaches us that our sins are repugnant to God. As we venerate the cross, we must commit ourselves to leaving sin behind. The cross teaches us about God's love. So, let us commit ourselves to never allowing guilt or fear to keep us from seeking God's forgiveness.