Presentata Curia 16th December 2010

Allocutio: Two hearts who trusted the heavenly Father.

I ask you to come with me and try and be with Jesus in those 6 hours he spent on the Cross. The pain, the rejection, the utter lack of comfort, the insults, the terror and horror of it for him. Especially for him. How could anyone have borne it? And when he said, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”he was not just pointing us to that psalm which begins with those words. He was in a place of sheer abandonment.

The crowd jeered, “He trusted in God. Let him deliver him, if he delight in him.” But the irony is that he did trust. It was that trust in God that got him to say in the Garden, “Thy will be done.” It was that trust that got him to allow himself be taken and abused, condemned without a proper trial, to bear the insults, to feel for those around him who couldn’t handle it, to forgive every sin that contributed to this. There was a great nobility and dignity about how he handled it. Pilate was convinced he was innocent, the centurion looked on with more than interest. He had not seen the like before. Many went home beating their breasts. But all this did not take from the wretched misery he was suffering. He kept trusting although everything was going away from him. “Father into your hands I commend my spirit”. Thus he died.

Let me switch just a moment to the film El Cid. Remember it? Charles Heston, Sophia Loren. According to that version the Cid was a man of great nobility and uprightness who suffered rejection by his wife and jealousy from the King. Both dismissed and banished him. Yet he kept himself from any other woman and would defend the King. He only got banished all the more. And many of the populace would not deal with him. But then came the moment of his personal victory. His wife came back. They spent their first night together for years in some broken down building in the back of beyond. As he got up and stepped outside the next morning he was astonished to find the whole armies of Spain in front of him offering him their support. His perseverance was rewarded. I know it was just a film but it tried to capture the ideal of the early medieval knight.

But on the Cross, despite the most noble act of all time which has no counterpart by anyone else in human history, Jesus was left alone. Okay a handful are mentioned. A few women with Mary ... John. The good thief put in an appreciated word. But it is emptiness of this poor man in his misery with no one appreciating him that dominates.

That is how it appears. But his wife was there. In fact a huge crowd did turn up. Because every time we celebrate Mass we turn up at the Cross. For our Mass is the sacrifice of Calvary made present to us really although in a sacramental form. And there we should worship and love this utterly good person who went through that misery with such goodness and nobleness, with such love and forgiveness as he sought to lift us from the quagmire of our sins.

You saw recently the joy and the love and the appreciation of wives and children for those men trapped in that mine in Chile. The disciples and the women were overjoyed to see his victory. Magdalene wanted to hug him but he stopped her. And should not our hearts be awash with joy and with love, with delight and with pride for such a wonderful hero who has come through all that for us? I have thought of myself putting an arm around his shoulders and saying, “Jesus you were just great. I am sorry for my sins that caused this but you are really brilliant!” Is that not part of our Eucharistic adoration?

Each of the Gospels gives two chapters to the event of his passion. The following chapters on his Resurrection are short and incomplete. I just wonder if it was how he so carried himself in the passion that left the greater mark. It was his trust in the Father to the point of total negativity that imprinted itself most. I hear a voice. “Father, this is Advent not Lent. We are coming to Christmas. Where are you?” Ah yes, but you see if the sacrifice of Calvary can be moved forward in time so that all those who celebrate Mass are made mystically present to it, then it must happen too that its shadow and indeed merits can also move back in time. Indeed we hear it obliquely referred to in that text in Genesis about Our Lady: It will crush your head and you will bruise his heel. That spirit of pride that did not trust God will be defeated but not before it has inflicted damage on the Christ. There is Calvary, the battle between faith and trust in God and human pride.

Many others before Christ came were involved in this struggle: Abraham, our father in faith and the other patriarchs and prophets. But just like the bright morning star that heralds the sun’s coming, there was to come someone who would share the trust of Christ and herald his arrival. Not by her own merits, as the papal declaration said, but by Christ’s merits. Yes Calvary and its graces were funnelled backwards to such an extent that she was kept free of original sin. Or to put that more positively she was endowed with that same utter trust in God that was a complete defence against sin.

I wonder how she first heard that Jesus was taken captive. How did her inner feelings go when she saw him so shamefully treated? Your mind can fill with so many thoughts. But of this I am sure. Like him she trusted and united her trust with his so that they, son and mother, performed some kind of duet before God, hers that of a mere creature, his that of God in human form. Hers the Immaculate heart, his the Sacred heart, both together utterly submissive without understanding but trusting.

If there is a grace to pray for it is that of trust. That was the grace Mary was given in her Conception, to trust God with no doubt. It was trust that carried Jesus to the height of the greatest human act ever. It was the trust that made him leap down from heaven to begin in the womb of eh virgin mother. Yes, what a duet!
Fr Paul Churchill

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