Fr. John Gerritts - April 14, 2019
As I reflect on the death of Jesus, crucifixion was an awful
way to die. The physical pain had to be horrible. The emotional duress had to
be extreme as well. When one is crucified, death results from no longer being
able to breath - the individual suffocates. A person hung upon a cross would
begin by placing one’s weight on the feet, allowing them to breath. When the
pain on the feet becomes unbearable the person would then place weight on one’s
hands. But this too would affect the ability to breathe.
My mother died of emphysema, so for many years it was hard
for her to breathe - to catch her breath. I know this made her uncomfortable
physically, but it was also scary for her. There is something very frightening
about not being able to take a deep breath, to not feel the air come in and go
out with exhalation. Most of us take breathing comfortably for granted: we only
think about it when we are swimming, have a cold, or experience allergies. The
general rule of thumb is we can spend three days without food, three days
without water, and no more than three minutes without oxygen. Breathing is
essential for human life.
This year on Palm Sunday we read the Passion of our Lord from
the Gospel of Saint Luke. Luke’s account of Jesus' death is unique in several
ways. One of the most striking things about Luke’s telling is his recording of
Jesus’ radical expression of forgiveness. “Father, forgive them, they know not
what they do.” This is not a request from Jesus, but a prayer from his lips. We
have no way to know what was in Jesus' heart at this moment. But the fact that
it was expressed as a prayer of petition gives us a helpful option that what
may not come spontaneously from our heart can be requested in prayer. That when
we feel like we are suffocating because our heart is not where we know it
should be, Jesus breathes this option into our soul.
This option is life giving to us - it breathes life into our
soul. Knowing that we have this option to petition God - even when our heart
may not be where we hope it would be - allows us to breathe. How easily we tend
to suffocate ourselves when we know we are not able to live the life God calls
us to when our hearts are not in the right place. Rather than entering into the
darkness of death, we have hope. We can petition God even as we struggle to
love, forgive, except others, and be kind.
And the really good news is that Jesus offers the same prayer
for us in our sin that he offered to the Father for those who led him down the
road of crucifixion.
Palm Sunday begins our celebration of
Holy Week. Each day and each liturgy is different. Each emphasizes a different
part of what is known as the Paschal Mystery. The Paschal Mystery is one of the
main concepts of our Catholic faith. It is based on the passion, death, and
resurrection of Jesus - the work the Father sent His son to earth to
accomplish. The Paschal Mystery is what once and for all leads to our
salvation. Without the events that we recall this week we would not have life.
Here we are not necessarily speaking of physical life, but more importantly the
life that is grounded in God’s glory. Without the passion, death, and
resurrection we would suffocate: for dying he destroyed our death and rising he
restored our life. Truly this is the most important week of the year for us as
Christians. Easter Sunday we can all breathe in the freshness of new life that
these events accomplish.
Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Church
Our Parish Council formed a task force to investigate ways Saint Patrick Parish can respond to the issues of clergy sexual abuse within our Church, including hosting a Mass of Healing in October and a listening session in November. Please click here
to learn more about the Task Force's recommendation to Bishop Powers.