Confronted with Christ’s Passion, as we are today, there is not much to say, since nothing speaks more eloquently than the blood of Christ. It cries out to God, not for justice (as does the blood of Abel) but for mercy. Beholding that cry, that blood, we can only be grateful, and look to our own need for that mercy.
But to be aware of our need for mercy, that is, our sins, does not drive us away from Jesus. To be aware of the distance that separates us from Him is to be able to desire to get closer. To be closer to Him, not in physical distance but in our inmost being, is what we call increasing in holiness. As Saint Bernadette reminds us each time we leave our church, our Jesus expects us to become saints – that is, holy; with him, and like Him.
Pope Benedict recently said there are three simple rules for living a holy life:
1) Never let a Sunday go by without an encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist; this is not an added burden, it is light for the entire week.
2) Never begin or end a day without at least a brief contact with God (in prayer).
3) And along the pathway of our lives, follow the road signs that God has given us in the Ten Commandments, read in the light of Christ; they are nothing other than explanations of what is love in specific situations.
The Pope said he knows most people, aware of their limits and weaknesses, think it wouldn’t be possible to be a saint. But he points out, “…for me, it is not just the great saints, who I know well, who show me the path to follow, but the simple saints — the good people who I have known in my life and who will never be canonized.”
The unnamed saints “are people who are, so to say, ‘normal,’ without visible heroism, but in their goodness each day, I see the truth of the faith, this goodness that has matured in the faith of the Church. For me, their goodness is the surest form of apologetics for the Church and a sign of where truth lies,” the Pope said.
You see, when you respond to the invitation of the Cross, you become an invitation yourself. Apologetics for the Church and a sign of where truth lies is just another word for invitation to follow Christ.
Next Saturday evening, thirteen people will step toward Christ, and step toward holiness, by being sacramentally initiated into the Church. Receiving Baptism, Confirmation, and/or Holy Communion at the Great Vigil of Easter, George Angelaras, Allegra Tasaki-Ng, Kris Shirley, Brian Simpson, Jessica and Stanley Barsch, Ted Byrdy, Maia Dennis, Sawyer and Karl MacMillan, Tina Moore, Patrick Long, and Rod St. Paul, are accepting Jesus’ invitation to holiness. They are doing that because of something they have seen, including you -- the holy people around them.
So as you stand for the drama of Christ’s betrayal, trial, torture, and execution this weekend, realize that just as His cross is an invitation to you, so are you an invitation to all who look on you. You may not be close enough, but you may also be closer than you think.