20 Mar 2016
What did he say, again? “This is my body, which will be given up for you.” “This is my blood, which will be poured out for many.” That wasn’t just an invitation to share a meal with him. It wasn’t an invitation to “come on over and hang out for a while.” It was an invitation to “do this in memory of” him. It was an invitation to join him in sacrifice, especially the sacrifice of the Cross.
And the Cross is right here. This “table” we gather at; this altar is the Cross. Here is where the Body of Christ is broken and given. Here is where the Blood of Christ is poured out and shared. And here is where we come—with our sacrifice of open hands, open hearts, and the self-abandonment of our will to the Will of God.
Here, at the Altar of the Cross—here, at the place of sacrifice—life happens. There’s a reason why we take our green palm leaves and keep them by a crucifix at home—they’re a reminder that through sacrifice, life happens. Whether it’s the sacrifices shared between spouses, or between friends, or the sacrifice of putting our own interests aside here at the altar—through sacrifice, life happens.
It’s why we venerate the Cross on Good Friday. It’s why we bow to the Altar, and kiss it, and treat it with the utmost of reverence. It’s the place of sacrifice; it’s our link to the font of life. And this Altar, this Cross, is here because Christ put it here. “Do this in memory of me,” he said. It wasn’t just an invitation to share a meal with him. It was an invitation to join him in making a sacrifice in love for something bigger than ourselves.
Sacrifice may not be attractive. It may not have lots of flashing lights and upbeat music. But underneath the sometimes stark reality of sacrifice, is the beauty of real affection, and the light which gladdens the innocent and the humble. Right here, at the center of our Catholic life, is the Cross—the Altar—and from it sprouts all those green shoots of new life.
Thanks be to God for the sacrifice of the Cross. Thanks be to God for new life.