This weekend we enter the final two weeks of Lent: Passiontide. This is the part of Lent when we consider the last days of Our Lord before his saving Death and glorious Resurrection. We try to enter into the mystery of the Passion by our reflecting on the various accounts we find in the Gospels; by following the Way of the Cross and by trying to unite all of our crosses with the sufferings that Jesus undertook for our sins. Every time we think about these scenes our predominant thought should be: Jesus suffered all of this for love of me. This itself fills us with great gratitude for all that we have been given and helps us to understand everything in the light of things eternal. Next week - Palm Sunday of the Passion - we will hear St Mark’s account of the Passion; this prepares us for what will follow in Holy Week: the three days, or Sacred Triduum, in which we recall the farewell Passover, His death on Calvary and His rising to life again on the third day.
We have passed the mid-way stage of Lent, and the Church allows us a little respite, a glimpse of the joy that will come to us at Easter, in the prayers of the liturgy and in the lighter tone of the vesture used on this Lætare Sunday. The words of the Introit of the Mass bid Jerusalem rejoice, and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult... Jerusalem is the place where the events of our salvation are going to unfold and so it is the City that, in a very true sense, is blessed. It is there that our Saviour will be lifted up upon the Cross just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert. Everything in the Old Testament is a preparation for, or a prefigurement of, the coming of the Messiah. As we approach the part of Lent traditionally termed Passiontide we can begin to think in more detail about the particulars of the Passion of Our Lord. We reflect on these mysteries so that we can apply them to our own lives and understand something of the love God shows us by going to this extreme. During Lent we try with every greater determination to unite all of the crosses and contradictions of this life with the Passion of Jesus and His Cross. I would like to share with you some lovely lines of Pope Emeritus Benedict, from his Encyclical Letter on Hope - Spe Salvi -written to the Ch
We hear of the incident when Jesus cleanses the Temple in the Gospel of this Sunday. It was a prelude to the Passion, and is one of those rare moments when Our Lord is filled with a righteous anger for the abuse of His Father's house. This passage from St John reminds us too, of the special and sacred nature of the places where God dwells amongst His people. Our churches are holy and consecrated, set aside for the specific purpose of worship, so that we may have places on earth wherein we can encounter the living presence of God.
The Gospel on the Second Sunday of Lent each year, calls to our minds the rare moment when Jesus is revealed to the Apostles as God in all His glory: the Transfiguration. Until that moment they had only seen His human nature, but now, before the Passion and Calvary, Jesus wishes to show them something of who He really is so that their faith in Him would not be shattered, The Preface of the Mass this Sunday expresses it liturgically: He revealed His glory to the disciples to strengthen them for the scandal of the cross. His glory shone from a body like our own, to show that the Church, which is the body of Christ, would one day share His glory.