“Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow”
There are so many that pass by and miss the many splendoured thing. It can be staring them in the face, and they just don’t get it. What blinds them? Well, the usual trio, I guess: the world, the flesh and the devil.
That’s what made the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, the Saducees, the Romans, pass by, even though they saw not a crucifix in church but the real bloody spectacle. Their world of state-tolerated religion and special privilege would be shattered if the claims of Jesus were true. Their flesh would have to be denied some of its selfish pleasures if the commands of this Jesus were obeyed. Their devilish pride by which they despised others would have to be subdued, if they believed this madman’s claim that “Inasmuch as ye do it (charity, love, care) unto the least of these my brethren, ye do it unto me”).
Dom Gregory Dix, that great Anglican Benedictine, asked in “The Shape of the Liturgy”: ”Was ever another command so obeyed?” referring to the words of Jesus at the Last Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me”. Through two millennia the church has offered the Mass in millions of different places day by day. And because each Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of the Cross, all the rest has flowed from it, the feeding of the hungry, the visiting of the sick and dying, the forgiving of enemies, the loving of the unlovely and uncaring and ungrateful.
Today, we share again the Passion of Christ, and we venerate his Cross, but we also receive his sacred Body. And we go away from the bare, empty, stripped church to wait in silence for what God will do.
Then tomorrow we return, to find the church rivaling the Philadelphia Flower Show, or the Metropolitan Opera, or indeed the Milan fashion houses! And why not? Only our best will do for the risen, triumphantly alive Christ. Once again, in spite of the world, the flesh and the devil, we have not passed by. We have stopped, shocked at man’s inhumanity. And the we have listened to our Lord’s words from the Cross”
“Father, forgive” ”Father, into thy hands” ”It is finished”
It is finished, done, perfected. Or in modern English: “I’ve done it! Mission fulfilled”.