Dear People of God,
When in your life have you felt loved unconditionally? My hunch is that each of us has glimpsed moments of beautiful, radiant unconditional love between others. If we’re blessed, we have experienced it for ourselves: in the forgiveness of one from whom we expected punishment, but received instead, mercy; in finding a soulmate; in a relationship with a pet (what teachers these creatures are of unconditional love).
But I dare to say all of us also experience the opposite, as children and adults. It may have come in the form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. It may have come from cumulative experiences of rejection and abandonment. We all bear scars from times when we were judged when we needed forgiveness, hurt when we needed healing. That’s the human condition. We are frail and faulty. We love with strings attached, we will hurt another before that one can hurt us. We fail to love unconditionally, no matter how hard we try.
At Easter, we discover again what is at the heart of Christianity: a God who loves His people unconditionally. That love is beautifully expressed in the life of Jesus, who eats with sinners, who notices those who are invisible, who tells parables of forgiveness that defy the imagination. How much does God love His people? Enough to allow His Son to be refused welcome in this world, and then rejected, beaten, mocked, humiliated….to death.
The observances of Holy Week are for anyone and everyone. They are intended to draw us into the history of Jesus’ life, and to prayerfully reflect on parallels with our own lives, the life of the Church, and the lives of our brothers and sisters on this planet. I hope you will join me in remembering the steps Jesus took that terrible week, for you and for me. For He paid the greatest price, that all might know a God who, like the father of the Prodigal Son, waits for us to turn to Him so that He may run to us…with open arms.
Thank you for being the People of Holy Cross. We are faulty and frail as individuals, and our community bears scars and wounds, for sure. But God has graced us together to bear witness to the One who was the only perfect living example of unconditional love. Let us boldly praise Him, and together proclaim His love to one another, and those who cry out for mercy in a critical and inhospitable world.
God bless and keep you,