Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
During Holy Week we contemplate with special intensity the Paschal Mystery, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.
It is the event we celebrate every time we come to Mass, the root of our serene joy, the foundation of our unwavering hope.
It is the central event in the history of salvation and in the history of the entire universe. It is the most radical and awe inspiring manifestation of the depth of the love of God for his creatures. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, assumes in his own body the consequences of the sin of men through the centuries. He even submits to the power of death. His suffering is as real as his humanity and as infinite as his divinity.
He enters into solidarity with us, who are burdened by the yoke of our guilt to free us from oppression and bring us to the fullness of life. Because he is man, he grieves, suffers and dies. Because he is God, he rises from the dead victorious. By his becoming man he enters into solidarity with each and every one of us. His humanity is the bond that unites us to his divinity and to his victory over sin and death.
Christ is born to die and dies to rise from the dead. He is born to condescend with our wounded human condition, broken by sin, subject to the darkness of death. He dies and rises from the dead to radically heal our wounded human nature, undo the consequences of sin and dispel the darkness looming over us, bringing us to the fullness of life.
This is the hour of Christ, the supreme moment in history, to which all other moments and events in the past and in the future converge. God brings his work of creation to its summit, recapitulating everything in the person of Christ.
The second reading form the Office for Holy Saturday in the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church, is taken from a work by Melito of Sardis, a bishop from Asia Minor who lived in the 2nd century. It summarizes with great eloquence and poetic beauty the meaning of the Paschal Mystery that we celebrate with great intensity during Holy Week, and most especially on this Easter Sunday. Indeed, we are celebrating an event that illuminates the present and projects its radiant light to the future and to the past.
“There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
For the sake of suffering humanity he came down from heaven to earth, clothed himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb, and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, he took the pain of fallen man upon himself; he triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit, which was incapable of dying, he dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.
He was led forth like a lamb; he was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as he had ransomed Israel from the hand of Egypt; he freed us from our slavery to the devil, as he had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with his own Spirit, and the members of our body with his own blood.
He is the One who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning. He is the One that smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring, as Moses robbed the Egyptians of their offspring. He is the One who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own forever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.
It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonored in the prophets.
It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay. He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.”
This is the One who continues to suffer with those who are suffering and will continue to share our joys and sorrows until that glorious day when the consequences of his radical and definitive victory over sin and death become fully manifest. Christ is Risen! Happy Easter!
Fr. Roberto M. Cid