25 March 2018
Deacon Les Ruhrmund
We have arrived at the last Sunday in Lent and the start of Holy Week. In this coming week we commemorate the most profound mysteries of life and death; of God and humankind; of love and sin. The Triduum starting on Thursday evening and continuing through to Easter Sunday is the most holy celebration in our faith.
This is the very nucleus of our faith. Without the events of the Easter Triduum, Christianity would not exist.
We recall the Passion today and we’re going to hear it again on Good Friday.
In the Passion we relive a most defining moment in human history: the brutal killing of the Son of God and the salvation of the world.
With each hearing we hopefully embrace anew the wonder and profound significance of God’s consummate sacrifice of love for us.
I’ve currently reading a book called Rediscovering Catholicism written in 2010 by Matthew Kelly, an American based author and founder of the Dynamic Catholic Institute. In the prologue to the book he presents an analogy of this sacrifice of love that I’d like to share with you in an abridged version.
Imagine you hear a report on the radio about a small village in India where at least four people have died, suddenly, strangely, of a flu that has never been seen before. You don’t think too much about it until you hear a week later that the death toll from this, as yet unidentified flu, has risen to thirty thousand in the back hills of India; whole villages have been wiped out.
Within a few days it’s the lead story in all media and the disease is spreading. There are now reports of deaths in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and North Africa. World authorities are scrambling to identify this ‘mystery flu’ and find a vaccine or at least a way to treat those who have been infected. As best they can tell, after contracting the disease, you have it for about a week without any signs of illness, then you have four days of ghastly symptoms, and then you die.
The President of France announces that he is closing the French borders after a man dies from this flu in a hospital in Paris. Panic strikes Europe which soon spreads to the rest of the world.
The British close their borders, but it’s too late; there are reports of people dying in Southampton, Liverpool and London. The United States cancels all flights to and from the USA. But there are already accounts of infected people dying in cities throughout the States and in many more countries around the world.
Scientists in laboratories are working frantically around the clock to find a cure. And then there’s a break through. The code has been broken. A cure has been found. A vaccine can be made. But it’s going to take the blood of someone who hasn’t been infected.
So you and I are asked to do just one thing: Go to the nearest hospital and have our blood tested.
At the hospital there are long lines of people and a constant rush of doctors and nurses taking blood samples. Finally, it’s your turn. You go first, then your spouse and children follow. Once the doctors have taken your blood they tell you to wait in the large car park outside for your name to be called. You stand around with your family and neighbours, scared, waiting, hoping and wondering if this is the end.
Nobody seems to have had their name called.
But then suddenly a young doctor comes running out of the hospital waving a clipboard and yelling a name. You don’t hear him at first but then a whole team of medical staff come out yelling the name and your son tugs at your sleeve and says “Dad, that’s my name they are calling.”
Before you know it they have grabbed your boy and are rushing him back into the hospital.
“Wait a minute. Hold on!” you say, “That’s my son!”
“It’s okay”, they reply “Your son’s blood is perfect and we can use it make a vaccine.”
As the news begins to spread across the car park, people scream and pray and laugh and cry and everyone’s hugging each other.
But there’s a problem. The doctor pulls you aside and tells you “We weren’t expecting it to be a child …….we need you to sign consent.”
“How much of his blood do you need?” you ask.
The doctor looks uncomfortable and after a short pause says quietly “We are going to need it all!”
“What do mean you need it all? I don’t understand! He’s my only son!”
The doctor grabs you by the shoulders and looking straight into your eyes says “We are talking about the whole world here. Do you understand? The whole world! Please sign the form.”
In numb silence you sign the form because you know it’s the only thing to do.
You walk into the hospital room where your son is being prepared for the procedure but are soon asked to leave.
Your son is crying out to you “Mom? Dad? What’s going on? Where are you going? Don’t leave me alone! Why are you abandoning me?”
A few months later, they hold a ceremony to honour your son for his phenomenal contribution to humanity …..but some people sleep through it, others don’t even bother to come, while others sit and fidget and say things like “This is so boring.”
Would you not want to stand up and say “Excuse me! My son died so that you could live. He died for you! Does it mean nothing to you?”
Perhaps that is what God wants to say.
Perhaps when we hear the Passion read again on Friday we’ll comprehend a little better the great love that our Father has for us.