‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’ (Jn. 12:20).
The veiled statues and images in our churches indicate that we have entered into Passiontide. Next Sunday, Palm Sunday, in the reading of the Lord’s Passion we will hear that at Our Lord’s death, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Mk. 15:38). This veil which was 45 feet in length and four inches thick served as the barrier to the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence rested and where the Ark of the Covenant was. This great veil concealed a greater and invisible reality; and in our worship, veils invite us to perceive and to enter into deeper realities that can only be accessed through faith, prayer, and above all, love; our own personal love. A veil is a sign of the great mysteries. Hidden behind or under the veil is something precious and worth pondering. So we enter into Passiontide, and the veils all around us invite us to enter into depth of the Mystery of Our Lord’s Passion and to ponder our own participation in His saving work as it unfolds around us and within us.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20). We are familiar with these words. They speak of St. Paul’s identification with Our Lord’s Passion; and they invite us to conform ourselves to Our Lord’s Passion intimately and personally. What we participate in and gaze upon with the eyes of our heart are eternal realities that are signs of authentic meaning; and they are important because we all want to live lives of meaningful purpose. The great liturgies that we will celebrate in the coming weeks will re-present the events of salvation history in all their detail and we will have the opportunity to enter into the depths of these mysteries so that we may perceive and understand what God has done for us in the Sacrifice of Calvary. In the coming days the sacred liturgy will set before us in great detail the Mystery of human redemption. If the sacrament of the Lord’s Passion is to work its effect in us, we must imitate what we receive and proclaim to mankind what we revere (St. Gregory the Great). The proclamation of the truth of salvation is surely our work but to do this effectively we must know Christ Jesus Our Lord intimately and be willing to count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus [our] Lord (Phil. 3:8). What would our life be like if we did not know Christ? Do we love Our Saviour? Do we love Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? It is essential that you and I give an answer to these questions in the depth of our own hearts for only the gift of love [our love] enables us to become in reality what we celebrate as mystery in the sacrifice (Fulgentius of Ruspe, Liturgy of the Hours, Vol. IV, p.379). In other words, in the absence of our own personal love we are at best observers and not participants in these realities.