Walking a long way of the cross this last year
All of us have been walking a long way of the cross this year, says Bishop Alan Hopes in his Easter reflection.
On the way of the Cross, blood is mingled with tears – the Blood of Christ, and the tears of the Virgin Mary, of St Mary Magdalene, the women, and St John. With the saints leading us, by faith we know that we ourselves have walked along that way of the Cross.
It is part of the Christian mystery that our own lives are caught up in the life of Christ. Our own passion is absorbed by his compassion. Not a drop of our tears, blood or sweat falls to ground without being touched and transformed by those of Christ. Nothing is wasted by God. His guiding hand draws us through the valley of darkness into the brightness of the empty tomb, where he weaves human thorns into crowns.
All of us have been walking a long way of the Cross this year. And we continue to walk it. Suffering brings strong reactions, whether to those of Christ on the Cross, or of my own personal suffering, that of my neighbour or of the whole human family. As was the case with the saints, we can be left incoherent, confused and lonely.
Looking at our wounds, however, we can never forget that Jesus, once suffering and once dead, is now alive and present to us, not only in our sentiments, but in reality – his real, sacramental Presence before us.
At Easter, and every day in the celebration of the Mass and in the Church’s whole life of worship, proclamation, and love, we are reminded that the horror of Calvary is not the end of our story.
The mystery of the Resurrection breaks into our confusion with a bright and radiating change for the better. Nothing can ever be the same again. Men and women can never remain exactly the same. The truth and brightness of the Resurrection shattering our prison bars is not a distant theory, but our real, Christian experience of a life of faith in the Risen Lord. Our co-operation with God’s guiding hand over time gradually changes the way we act, and how we read the signs of the times within and around us. After tragedy, God re-creates. Wounds remain, but with eyes of faith focussed in hope on God’s promises, we may see the vitality of his new creation.
We have received the gift of new life through, with, and in Jesus Christ for a particular purpose: to enable us to see his guiding hand in our lives, that no wound is wasted, and that always and everywhere, we may give thanks to him, as we sing, Alleluia!
Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia