Sunday, April 17, 2011

Are You Dying Yet?

Holy Week: The most earth-shattering, patience-testing, mind-straining week in the entire liturgical year. For the past thirty-three days or so, we, as the Body of Christ, have given up chocolate, Facebook, and video games. We’ve given more time to prayer, given more alms, and have given more time to God.

But as we lay down our palm branches and watch our Lord enter Jerusalem on this Passion Sunday, this question needs to be asked of us as Catholics: Are you dying yet?

And if the answer is “no,” then why not?

Of course I am referring to a death of pride; a death to self. Lent is supposed to be a time when we further our relationship with God and leave our sin and selfishness behind. This is synonymous with dying to self, so that it is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you (Galatians 2:20). And if that has not happened yet, if you have not allowed Christ to crack open your heart of stone and break away laziness, sloth, jealousy, greed…why not?

Christ’s passion was absolutely brutal. And I can’t even refrain from hitting my snooze button six days a week? He took nails for you, and you can’t stay off of Facebook? He took upon Himself all the sins that you have committed, and will ever commit, and you can’t sit through a one-and-a-half hour mass? Or a three hour vigil? The Church says this to us during Holy Week:

“Suck it up. God became man so that man might become like God. We’re going to allow you to experience an infinitesimal amount of His passion in part by subjecting you to a longer liturgy. So suck it up, and enter into it.

I can’t help but think that one way we can relate to Christ’s passion is sitting in a packed church during the Easter vigil on Holy Saturday, sweating way more than we want to (because for once, the church is actually full), struggling to keep our eyes open. But it is obviously so much more than that. We need to fully enter into Christ’s painful march along the Via Dolorosa while carrying His Cross – he asks that we pick up ours (I find it ironic that today, Passion Sunday, is also the date of the Vancouver Son Sun Run). We need to meditate, pray, and experience all that He went through during this week 2000 years ago. Maybe, just maybe, offering up ourselves to God this week, mind, body, and spirit, has some advantage for those of us who want to love selflessly. Holy Week is where redemption was made.

If Lent has not been as “successful” as you would have liked it to be, then use Holy Week as seven days to go full speed. Seven days to understand that by becoming human and allowing Himself to be beaten, ridiculed, insulted, mocked, nailed, killed – and then rising from the dead – Christ made suffering mean something.

We all need to die. It is the only way to live.

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