[Can’t preach on Sunday. But if I could, I would say this…]
Our forefathers of the Old Covenant waited for the Messiah. They didn’t know what His name would be. They didn’t know what He would look like, or exactly what He would do. But they believed in the coming Christ.
After all, God had formed an alliance with them. He had promised good things. The ancient Israelites knew God would fulfill His promises. History would make sense. Life would have meaning. Our desire for justice and truth, for real happiness in an upright, honest life—God Himself would fulfill all those desires. Somehow. God knew how, and He would do it.
In other words, the ancient Israelites believed in Divine Providence. They had no doubt that God would send His Christ to make everything right. And God did send His Christ.
Through Adam sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all… But the gift is not like the transgression. For if, by the transgression of the one, many died, how much more did the grace of God, and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ, overflow. (Romans 5:12,15)
Before He came, the ancient Israelites waited, trusting. And now we Christians know beyond a shadow of a doubt: God loves us. He loves us with the love of a kind Father. Christ crucified reveals the full extent of the Providence of God. The Father loves us this much; He loves us with the “amount” of love evident on the cross. And that amount = infinity.
I think most of us have this in common. Loving Jesus from earliest childhood. Believing in Him as the Savior, as the One Who has atoned for sin, Who has revealed the Father’s love. We know that God loves us, because of Jesus.
Meanwhile: the cross teaches us another important thing, too. If I might, maybe I’ll get a little personal here.
I have vivid memories of how my vocation as a Catholic, and as a priest, began. Thirty years ago, the Lord helped me see not just the infinite love of the Father when I gazed at the crucifix. He also helped me see: the total trust of the Son, the absolute trust of the incarnate Son in His heavenly Father.
Jesus gave Himself over into the Father’s hands, trusting so absolutely that He died fearlessly, even serenely, on Mt. Calvary. The Lord helped me see how this trust of Christ on the cross could be a whole way of life—a way of life for all of us, and especially for us priests.
God will provide. I have nothing to fear. I myself may be obtuse and difficult; I may have a weak nature, prone to selfishness. And there are plenty of other people in this world who have the same problems. So we run up against each other in conflicts sometimes.
But I can still dive headfirst into the great pool of love that is Christ’s Church, without holding anything back. Because I have no evil to fear. Jesus trusted—unto death. And the heavenly Father took care of Him, lifting Him up from the grave, to immortal, heavenly glory. So the Father will take care of me, too.
Right now, our parishes suffer confusion and dismay. I suffer confusion and dismay. A terrible storm has engulfed us, and there’s really not much any of us can do about it. So let’s focus on this:
God sent His Christ. He provided everything necessary for us to get to heaven. And it didn’t happen without wounds.
The two sparrows which got sold for a small coin, which the Lord Jesus said our heavenly Father had His eye on—they didn’t sell those sparrows, in the Temple courtyard, for pets. They sold them for… sacrifice.
The workings of Divine Providence don’t involve some happy-happy-joy-joy merry-go-round ride. No. God’s entire plan revolves around one precise center point: Mount Calvary. We have an altar at church for a reason: so that we can offer ourselves in sacrifice, along with the Body, Blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.
For our parishes, these are terribly painful months. It is a moment of sacrifice, genuinely wounding sacrifice. But we trust. God provides. Jesus said: Do not be afraid!
So why should I feel discouraged, or why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart be lonely, away from heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion; my constant friend is He.
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
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