Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy Week

A very nice reflection from yesterday’s edition of The Catholic Thing.

An excerpt.

“And so today the week without compare since the creation of the world begins. Suffering, death, resurrection – all of it strange, even the resurrection tough to take in, given how it comes about. You can see that in the way the apostles are still stunned, for no little time, despite the empty tomb. Instead of regarding it all as a foregone and familiar conclusion, we’d do well ourselves to stay a while with that uncertainty and astonishment at the mysterious events of Holy Week.

“The title above is from Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, which helpfully unfolds the Gospel from Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, without trying to explain it away with some rationalist system. (It’s the anniversary of his election as pope tomorrow, by the way, another thing to be grateful for.) There is no fully explaining God’s saving action in history. All the Easter bunnies and candy baskets in the world cannot obscure that fact, though they’ve tried. Unlike Christmas, there is no way to reduce this season to a warm and fuzzy, feel-good holiday. And yet Christians think it the most important event in the life of the cosmos.

“That irreducible strangeness is one reason why, in these latter days, Easter is barely covered in the media. A few oddities maybe: some Philippine village where they actually crucify (without killing) a volunteer; the Oberammergau Passion Play, which may or may not still be anti-Semitic; the latest “archaeological” discovery by some film producer, which of course explodes the whole Christian story and, by strange coincidence, confirms modern anti-Christian beliefs.

“Under the circumstances, a believer is tempted simply to push it all away and withdraw. But Christ didn’t come into the world for a private séance with a few elect souls. He came into the world to save the world. And in a way, it’s a salubrious thing to reflect on how implausible our belief seems to that world, lest we turn this singular and challenging event into a merely comforting story.

“The comfort comes eventually, but to go there too quickly means passing over the cost, which really amounts to thinking God could have done this great thing – overcoming sin and death – without the bloody prelude.

“Let me confess: I do not entirely understand the need for that. St. Peter seems not to have either and been impatient with it at first. The great St. Anselm tried to explain in Cur Deus Homo? (“Why did God become man?”). The answer: to save us. But there’s a deeper question. The Catechism says: he loved us so much that he became a humble creature like us, willing to suffer, die, and be buried to redeem us.”