by Fr. Chrysostom Baer, O.Praem., Prior
Holy Week Homily: Sunday, April 10, 2022
With the commemoration of the Lord’s Passion, we have now begun the holiest week of the year. And although the length of the Passion narrative is best matched by the brevity of our words, the need for a bit of rest demands we not be altogether silent, lest either so great a mystery be passed over with undue haste or weariness be increased by too much talk. So profound are Christ’s suffering and death that no man can do them justice, and yet the very subject matter which is ineffable gives us the ability to speak, nor can it be that however little we say is insufficient when however much we say can never be enough.
For what among all the works of God, in which human wonder fails, so delights and overcomes our contemplation as does the Passion of the Lord? To free mankind from the chains of slavery to sin and death, He both concealed the power of His majesty from the rage of the devil and presented to him the weakness of our lowliness. For if our cruel and proud enemy had been able to know the plan of God’s mercy, he would have tried rather to temper the hearts of the Sanhedrin with gentleness than to ignite them with unjust hatred, so that he might not lose the slavery of all his captives while he persecuted the freedom of the One Who owed him nothing.
Thus Satan’s own hatred tricked him, and the torture he inflicted on the Son of God would turn into the healing for all the sons of men. He shed righteous Blood, which was both the price of our redemption and our Eucharistic drink. It was Christ’s own will and plan that furious men would lay wicked hands on Him, hands which, while they wrought their own evil intent, were also at the service of our Redeemer. So great was Christ’s love, even for His killers, that from the cross, as we heard, He prayed to His Father not that He would be vindicated but that they would be forgiven.
This is surely the beginning, and not the end, of our meditation this week. King David says, “Seek the Lord and be strengthened; always seek His face.” No one should presume that he has found everything he was seeking, lest he stop drawing near who has stopped his search. Infinite are the mysterious riches of this sacred time. We will mine the depths of its treasure less by our immersion in the world than by detachment from it, less by our dissipation in media than by our rest in quiet prayer, less by the lament of our sufferings than by offering them all in humble union with our Savior, Who is merciful and a lover of mankind.
Also: Listen to this recording of the Passion of Christ according to St. Luke by Fr. Ambrose Criste, O.Praem., Fr. Miguel Batres O.Praem., and Fr. Gregory Dick, O.Praem.
At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus says to the twelve: “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” After signaling to John who it is, but not hearing the answer, Peter hears Jesus say to him: “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” One imagines that Peter understood Jesus to be answering John’s question by identifying him as the soon-to-be traitor.
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