Sunday, 14 April 2019

Darkness, Passion Sunday

When we think of the crucifixion of the Lord there are a number of visual aspects we might focus on. Today, I want to point out the darkness.
The Gospels (Mt 15:33; Mt 27:45; Lk 23:44) note how darkness descended on the whole earth when Christ was crucified.
Darkness, and God hanging dead on a tree, and the dead God being laid in the tomb to lie dead in the darkness of the tomb: such darkness fittingly expresses the mood of this moment.
Jesus, “the light of the world”(Jn 8:12), had entered His world (Jn 1:4), and He allowed the darkness to overcome Him.

(pause) Darkness is something we naturally fear.
In particular, as children, many of us experienced the fear of the dark.
What can reach a child trembling with fear in the dark?
In this context, Pope Benedict noted that what will reassure a child in the dark in the presence of one who loves them.
And the point, very simply, is that we each have many things in life that we experience as darkness.
We each have many moments when that fear and loneliness we know in the dark can descend upon us.
There is, however, One who has gone into the darkness before us.
He is One who is present in the darkness with us.
Even in my apparent aloneness, the Lord is at my side.

When I feel darkness descend upon me,
When I feel alone in that darkness,
I should remember the darkness that descended on Calvary when the Lord chose to die there,
I should recall the darkness in the tomb as He lay there for three days.

Sometimes we want an “answer” to explain our suffering.
But, while Scripture gives us very significant teachings about suffering, its deepest “answer” is not so much a “why” as a “Who”:
I ask the Lord why He allows me to suffer,
and He answers by showing me He is WITH me in my suffering.
This, in fact, is worth more to me than “why”,
And this, in truth, is something more VALUABLE to know.

But there is something more:
God entered the darkness,
God chose to be Hidden and cloaked on Calvary and for three days in the tomb,
But He did not stay there.
He burst forth in power.

When I lie in darkness and loneliness, He is with me.
And He has entered into the darkness with me to LEAD me OUT.
Sometimes the “three days” I lie there seems long,
But lead me out He will.
As Pope Benedict put it, “Even in the extreme darkness of the most absolute human loneliness we may hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes ours and leads us out” (Pope Benedict, 2 May 2010, Turin meditation, “The Mystery of Holy Saturday” (quoted in Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence, p.109)).

And however long those “three days” seem, they can become bearable WITH HIM.
Like the child afraid and alone in the dark,
the Presence of the One who loves me, is with me.

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