12th Sunday of the Year
‘They shall look on the one whom they have pierced.’ [Zechariah 12:11, First Reading].
Who are they?
All of us without distinction ‘male, female, Jew and Greek, slave or free’. We all share in the responsibility of the sins of the human race but we all share in the hope of our redemption as well – we are one in Christ.
While there are laudable attempts to promote unity and peace through the UN and other world bodies, all of us are one only in Christ.
There is a multiplicity of ethnic groups, languages, cultures, but the human heart is the same wherever you go. There is a universal ‘cri de coeur ‘for happiness, peace, fulfilment, satisfaction and ultimately, love. The heart’s deepest longing is for God, the beautiful psalm 62 tells us. Only He can satisfy every human longing and emptiness. To be loved and to experience God’s healing love is better than the satisfaction that comes with an overflow of food or drink. It is to have true secure knowledge of one’s present and guaranteed future happiness. He alone is the source of our joy and praise.
This is not a pipe-dream or an escape from real problems that we may presently endure. We must carry our cross as Jesus commands in the Gospel, but how often we can find refuge as ‘cross-bearers’ in a cross or crucifix for consolation, answers and meaning. Truly we too ‘look on the one whom [we] have pierced.’ How often do we gather once more the strength to get off our knees before the crucifix and resume the tasks and once more pick up the crosses that await us? How often have we gazed on [Him] in the sanctuary (psalm 62) at the Crucifix or the tabernacle, ‘to see your strength and your glory’. We have pined for God, the Psalm says, ‘like a dry, weary land without water’ looking for comfort, solace and strength to endure, or even to cry out silent tears of frustration, loneliness, desolation or abandonment that no-one else sees, hears or knows about.
Yet there is hope. In losing our lives, we save them. In suffering there is salvation, in death, resurrection. There is an old saying, ‘no cross, no crown, no thorn, no throne.’ Salvation comes at a great cost to ourselves; ‘We must endure many hardships before we enter the Kingdom of God’ (St Paul/Acts). But just as we are called to carry our cross behind Jesus ‘to places we would rather not go’, so our frequent mediations on His Passion remind us that despite our many falls along the way, we too can experience the comfort and consolation of His Mother, and of the many Veronicas and Simons, as well as of compassionate women who have come to our aid.
There are many timeless traditional devotions that enliven our faith, strengthen our resolve and inflame our love to carry our cross daily after Him. Many find consolation in praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet, the Stations of the Cross, the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, meditating on the Seven Last Words of Jesus, and even simply reading and pondering over the Passion narratives in the 4 Gospels, and of course, above all, celebrating the Eucharist.
The concluding prayer today reminds us that sharing in His Body and Blood; we pray that the Lord renews His life in us assuring our redemption and eternal life with Him.