Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

A Parish of the Archdiocese of New York served by the Dominican Friars


April 11, 2017

Behold the Man – Pastor’s Reflection (April 9, 2017)

The laws of mass-produced bulletins being what they are, I wrote these Holy Week lines way back on March 30.

I look forward to the holiest of times through a lens of bafflement. Information about events now comes so elaborately sauced with spin that I cannot figure out what meat lies on the plate. What am I to believe? With public affairs so obscured, the believability of Jesus startles me as I look forward to this Holy Week. In the long narrative of the Passion Jesus stands in a cloud of posturing as the real one. Pilate testified to this when he looked upon the scourged and mocked Jesus and said, “Behold the Man.” (Ecce Homo) (John 19:5) The Prophet Isaiah gave word, centuries in advance, to the credibility of Jesus when he prophesied, “There was, in Him no stately bearing to make us look at Him, nor appearance that would attract us to Him.” (Isaiah 53:2)

As Jesus carries His cross through these days He manifests in His person the startling truth of human beings. Behind our displays of muscularity; be they physical, technical, political, artistic, or financial, men and women walk this earth alone, vulnerable, and finite. Age, handicap, and illness do us the invaluable service of serving up the ungarnished and unvarnished truth about humanity in general, and ours in particular. The message of Holy Week is that God loves this truth of us and builds upon it, as He grounds the resurrected life on the death of Jesus. What is most real about us, becomes the way to the reality of God.

So as we pass through these days take note of who in the story wants to demonstrate power to us; Pilate, Herod, the High Priest, and the crowd. As we entertain their claims we realize they all act in God’s drama.

By contrast, we contemplate how Jesus, knowing His God, has the security to be real for
Himself and for all of us.

On Palm Sunday we ponder the way in which Jesus permits Himself to be misunderstood by the crowd, as we are misperceived by those close to us.

On Holy Thursday we marvel as He washes feet, addressing Himself in love to the the part of us that bears the dirt and smell of the road we have walked, and recognize how much of our life is shaped by our mileage.

We see how He promises to be with us through time under the forms of the most basic food and drink, and recognize the many hungers and thirsts of your own life.

We hear how He names His loneliness in the face of betrayal, and denial and we recall the isolating record of our disappointments.

On Good Friday our ears perk up as Jesus says to the High Priest, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the Temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing.” (John 18:20) In Jesus there is no muscularity of secretiveness or
elitism.

On Easter we recognize the otherworldly paradox that we are impressed by the
un-impressiveness of Jesus, and therein lies the power to look beyond the unimpressive things that used to impress us. We share in divine life through His very human death and so we do not shy aware from any part of human life. We present ourselves to the world without spin because we now carry in ourselves the news that may be believed.

Peace!
Fr. Walter