So God said to the Israelite people through the prophet Jeremiah. Here an important transition takes place:
From collective guilt to individual responsibility for sin. An observance of the law marked by personal conviction. A direct experiential knowledge of God involving personal contrition and absolution.
The Psalmist prays for a clean heart and a steadfast spirit; a responsive heart and a completely renewed spirit.
The Second Reading addresses Jesus’ passage to glory through the Cross. The depth of his suffering is seen in the words – “he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears” to the Father.
Before his passion and death Jesus shared with two of the Apostles, Andrew and Philip, an image that both enlightened and challenged them (and us) – “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Jesus, they realized later, was not just speaking of his disciples but also of himself.
One thing we know for sure, everyone has their own “way of the cross” – it can be emotional, physical, and/or spiritual.
Lately, I have been thinking about Jesus’ mother and her ‘way of the cross’. Starting with Simeon’s prediction to her when she and Joseph brought Jesus, as a baby, to be presented in the Temple to God: “you yourself a sword shall pierce.” What this
meant for her she had no idea at the time. Like us, Mary would suffer inconveniences and discomforts, disappointments and sorrows in her life – for example, the absence of Jesus, at the age of 12 from the group heading back to Nazareth after their visit to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover; the death of Joseph; and Jesus’ departure from their home to begin his public ministry, to name a few.
I like to think that she was at the Last Supper, perhaps in the kitchen with the other women who followed Jesus and served him.
But it is her experience of Jesus’ Way of the Cross that would fully fulfill Simeon’s prediction.
See here Fr. Richard Furey’s “Mary’s Way of the Cross” booklet from Twenty-Third Publications.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 Psalm 51:1-15 Hebrews 5:7-9 John 12:20-33
Fr. Max Oliva, S.J.
March 21, 2021