Sometimes it seems to me that we forget – all too easily – that our faith is based upon two separate but united events; the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. These two go together – they will always go together – and we cannot have one without the other. To reach the joy of Easter, we must first live through the sorrow of Good Friday – for the one was bought at the price of the other.
In this octave of Easter and in the whole of Eastertide, we hear ourselves repeating ‘alleluia’ over and over. The very word is an exclamation of joy and of promise – and that is as it should be. But our ‘right’ to use it has cost us – we first had to immerse ourselves in the events recounted in the Triduum, from the desolation of the Garden to the sacrifice of Golgotha. Only then could we authentically light the candles of the Easter Vigil and proclaim our joy.
Our parish Church, like a great many others, now has a large Cross standing close to the Tabernacle, bearing upon it the representation of the Shroud of Christ and His Crown of Thorns. It almost makes the Tabernacle itself seem like that tomb, from which the Risen Christ emerged in unending glory that first Easter Morning – except, of course, that in this place, He is here.
Extending these thoughts out to life more generally, perhaps there are lessons here for us.
At the darker moments of life, we can find ourselves asking God “why?” – why have You let this, or that, happen, to me or those I love?; why have You allowed such evil in the world and why does it seem to flourish?; why is life so hard at these moments?
I don’t imagine for one instant that the Lord minds us asking Him this question; in fact, I sometimes suspect that at times, He uses such moments to draw us (or at least, invite us to come) just a little bit closer to Him – for it is so often at these times that we turn to the Lord, even if we imagine our approach to be in anger. Christ, on the Cross, asked the same question, so we are in good company.
Sitting looking at these thorns, placed so gently upon this Cross, I consider all these things. One day, please God, our crown will be made of something else. But for now, in these moments, we need to trust in the Lord; He is the Lord of promises and He is always faithful to those promises, which He fulfils without exception – even in ways we do not foresee or expect.