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he gets it, she gets it; God gets it, we get it

3 Apr

Good Friday wall 01

On Good Friday the wall behind our altar is noticeably blank. Something is missing. If one looks closely, one sees where the crucifix usually is. It is taken down to be carried in procession into church for the Veneration of the Cross during the Liturgy of Lord’s Passion.

Good Friday wall 02

Jesus knows suffering: physical suffering, emotional suffering, and spiritual suffering. He knew the pain of whips, thorns and nails. He knew the pain of betrayal and the pain of being left alone in agony. He knew the pain of feeling abandoned by God. He knows suffering.

When we go to him because we are suffering, physically, emotionally or spiritually, we know that he understands. He gets it!

Here’s how I tried to say that on Good Friday:

During the veneration of the cross our music director played a piece for the first here at St. Andrew, which was the first time ever that the piece was played and sung anywhere. The “Ave Maria – Woman of Sorrow” was written/composed by our Deacon, Timothy S. Schutte, at the death of Pope John Paul II. Good Friday is the one day of the year that the text and music is appropriate; it is meant for Good Friday. The piece joins the Annunciation and the Crucifixion, the conception of Jesus in her womb and the death of Jesus on his cross. As Mary stands at the foot of the cross in her overwhelming grief, she remembers and feels all over again her bewilderment when she was face to face with the angel Gabriel.

Ave Maria Schutte

The refrain is the words of the angel to Mary, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, and blessed are you” (in Latin). In the grief of Good Friday, Mary speaks, “My Heart pierced through, / my sorrow the sword. / His mission done, / my tears freely flow,” and then the line that connects this moment to her response to the angel, “Look what my ‘yes’ has done.” But then God speaks, “Oh fairest one, / do not despair /  your Son and Mine, Divine Heir / His love poured out, / My face you see,” and ends with a phrase echoing back to Mary her own words, “Look what your ‘yes’ has done.”

Here’s how our choir sang it on Good Friday:

In the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we pray, “Eternal Father, for the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

or as the French say, “Merci”

15 Apr

On Easter Sunday night, when Jesus showed the disciples, minus Thomas, his hands and his side, it was an act of Divine Mercy. Jesus was helping them to believe. 

On the Sunday after Easter, which is today for us, when Jesus offered his hands and his side to Thomas, he was not reprimanding or scolding Thomas; he was not making an example of Thomas. It was an act of Divine Mercy. Jesus was helping Thomas to believe. 

See Thomas not as doubting, but as wanting to believe, and finding it hard to believe. 

You know how it can be, wanting to believe, longing to believe, and finding it hard to believe. You pray and pray and pray, but you do not see physical evidence that your prayers are heard. The situation is not fixed; there is no cure. You say things like, “My prayers are not working.” It doesn’t mean that you are doubting. You do believe. You just want to be able to believe more deeply. 

Thomas is not stomping his foot, in a “terrible two” moment. He is not being stubborn with an, “I will not believe, until I have the same religious experience that you had!” Rather, hear him sighing and longing, “I will not be able to believe, unless …” Thomas wants to believe, but finds it hard to believe. For a week, Thomas is in that horrible misery. The more the other disciples rejoice, the more his heart hurts. 

With his appearance to Thomas, with that show of hands and heart, Jesus is pleading with Thomas to believe, as much as Thomas was pleading to be able to believe. Jesus wants Thomas to believe, as much as Thomas wants to believe. 

On some rare occasions, yes, we do “see our way into believing.” We see glimpses of evidence of Divine Mercy. Most often, however, we “believe our way into seeing.” Without evidence, we hold on to our hope that somehow God is in here somewhere, that Divine Mercy “is” flowing upon us through the heart of Jesus. 

One of three prayers may seem appropriate today. Which one do you most earnestly pray? 

1.      Lord, have mercy on me! 

2.     Jesus, I trust in you.

3.     – or the French say – Merci (thank you) for your Mercies, O Lord.