As people age, their vision often becomes impaired. Getting bifocals often solves the problem, because they allow eyes to see things up close in ways that the aging process prevents. Still, bifocals take getting used to because now they have two fields of vision, two perspectives, which must be integrated and negotiated.
Now that we are in the midst of the Easter Triduum, our major celebration of the Pascal Mystery, our spirituality calls us to juggle two very different scenes.
We have, of course, the scene so starkly painted for us in the Gospel according to John: the crucifixion of the Son of God. John’s account emphasizes Jesus as King. Pilate not only banters with Jesus about the title, but hangs the words “The King of the Jews” on the Cross. That only contrasts the more with the willingness of the leaders and the crowd to do away with this rebel.
After the death of Jesus, we have another scene, not forty hours later, when women see the burial stone rolled back from his tomb. In the Gospel according to Luke, which we read this year, two men appear to the puzzled women, terrifying them and causing them to bow their heads to the ground. “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?” they ask. “He is not here, but he has been raised.” (Luke 24:5-6)
Jesus raised high on the Cross. Jesus raised from the dead. Jesus raised so that we all can see both the reality of our death and the prospect of new life in him. Strangely, one needs to see both scenes, clearly and fully. We cannot think only of resurrection, because we undoubtedly will die. Nor can we think only of death, because resurrection awaits all those who find union with God in Jesus. To understand the full impact of what Jesus has done for us, we need double vision, perspective, insight.
The liturgy on Good Friday, and on Easter Sunday, calls us to that fuller vision, that deeper insight about how death and life, now mingled with divine love, help us see the patterns of God in our lives.
What patterns of dying and rising have you identified in your life as you follow Jesus? What situation, relationship, or habit would you most want to die in your own life? What would you want to take on more of in your life?
Spend ten minutes, at least, before a crucifix, asking God what the Cross can teach you in your life.
Almighty ever living God, who as an example of humility for the human race to follow caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross, graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering and so merit a share in his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
(Collect Prayer for Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord)