A MESSAGE FROM FATHER LOU
Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Day of Days
Our annual Great Lenten Journey is nearing its end. We are about to accompany our Lord and His disciples to Bethany – to the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha.
…It seems that Lazarus has died. Our Lord delayed His return for four days. In fact, some around us, even Mary and Martha question why He hadn’t returned earlier. Could He not have healed him? Could He not have kept him from dying? We see Him greet and embrace Martha and Mary. He weeps. Oh, how He loves them and him! They together go to the tomb. As we follow, we hear His instructions to open the tomb. Are You sure, Lord? He has been dead for four days! Martha, as if she had to, reminds Him of the certain signs of his mortality. They’ve been through so much already. Are You sure, Lord? But then…we hear Him, “Lazarus, arise!” Is this for real?! The mummy wrapped corpse steps forward from his tomb! He is alive! He is the Son of God! Oh, the joy! Wonder of wonders! Who could imagine?!
…Today He enters Jerusalem. Everyone is talking. They all want to see Him and Lazarus who He raised from the dead. Thousands are gathered. They come to the Passover. They come to receive the King. But wait – here He comes on the colt of a donkey – not on a great stallion. He has told us many times that His Kingdom is not of this world. He is so simple, so humble. But they greet Him with Palm leaves and shouts of joy: “Hosanna in the Highest…Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (John2:13). We notice that not everyone is shouting. Many religious leaders are not happy with Him. He knows. We know.
…He has told us that the Son of Man will be captured by sinful men. There is something evil in the air. He seems somewhat pre-occupied. He tells us to be ready. He shares a parable of the Bridegroom coming in the middle of the night and five wise and five foolish virgins. The wise ones were prepared to meet the Bridegroom while the foolish ones were not. Could He be the Bridegroom that He is referring to? If He is, we must – like the wise virgins be prepared to receive Him. We must be vigilant.
…We are in the Upper Room for the Passover Meal. We break Bread and drink Wine with His Blessings and His transforming words, “Receive and Eat, this is My Body…Drink from it, all of you. For this is my Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remissions of sins.” (Mt. 26:26-28). What does this mean? It seams so special. Then He washes our feet. Oh, what humility. But where is Judas? He left abruptly. We heard our Lord saying that one would betray Him. We all agreed that was not possible.
…We are at the Garden of Gethsemane. It is so late. We are so tired, He goes off by Himself to pray. He is troubled. There is something evil in the air…He has warned us to pray, to be vigilant. But we can barely keep our eyes open. We doze. We are startled. What’s happening? What’s the commotion? Who are the people? Why is Judas with them and why does he kiss Him? Oh, no! They’ve come for our Lord! Should we fight? He tells us no. But they are taking Him! What should we do?! What should we do? We scatter…John and some women are near by. Peter is close by. We are in chaos. What if they come after us, too?
…We hear that He is going to the Praetorium. Pilate is there. He is accused of being an enemy of the state. We know that they don’t like Him. He has challenged them too many times. Everything is moving so quickly. He is being beaten – flogged…we hear that He is to be crucified…They are jeering at Him. They’ve put a crown of thorns upon His head in mockery. Oh, the extreme humiliation. Oh, His extreme humility.
…He is carrying His cross to Calvary. Oh, the agony. He is innocent. “As a sheep is led to the slaughter…as a lamb is silent before his shearers, he opens not his mouth.” (Is. 53:7). We gaze from afar. As a notorious thief with thieves, he is crucified. It is mid-afternoon, but it seems like the middle of the night. Darkness has covered the Earth. A horrible storm approaches. He breathes His last breath. The earth quakes! Thunder bellows! Lightening strikes! Our Lord has died.
…A dark Sabbath, full of numbness, full of despair. Were You not the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Savior? Could you not have changed this? Could it not have been avoided? What shall we do? Where shall we go? After whom shall we follow?
…It is the First Day of the week. It is the Bright Day. The Myrrh bearers have returned from the Tomb with startling news: He is Risen! He is Alive! We see Him! It is our Lord! “Oh, death where is your sting? Oh, Hades where is your victory? Christ is Risen! And you are destroyed. Christ is Risen! And you are annihilated.” (St. John Chrysostom – Paschal homily). He is Risen and He is with us forever. “It is the Day of Resurrection! Let us shine forth in splendor for the Festival, and embrace one another. Let us say ‘o brethren’, even to those who do not love us, let us forgive all things in the Resurrection, and thus exclaim: Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down, death by death, and bestowing life to those in the tombs.” (Paschal Doxastikon)
Our Annual Pilgrimage is complete. He is the Lord of Lords. He is the King of Kings. His Resurrection is the Day of Days.
Have a blessed end of Great Lent, a heartfelt Holy Week and a Glorious and Life-giving Resurrection!
With our Lord’s blessings, Fr. Lou