The silence of death


The silence of death

Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:46

As I read and listen to the narrative of the Passion of Christ this weekend, I hear a story of suffering, pain and death. I also read and hear of the story of the genocide of Ukrainian people – the innocent civilians, elderly, women and children being killed on the streets of Bucha, Mariupol, Mykolaiv and many other cities. I am at a loss for words in the face of such incredible pain.

As we reflect on the Gospel this weekend, immediately after Jesus “breathed his last” we enter into a moment of silence, the silence of death when we are lost for words. We deeply seek some hope and consolation. As we look up to the Cross, we can see the power of God bringing sense out of confusion, hope out of despair and life out of suffering and death.

When Eugene de Mazenod invited Fr. Tempier to form a missionary community, he directed him to “read this letter at the foot of your crucifix” in order to better discern his answer to his invitation to join the congregation. This approach echoes Eugene’s own experience, when the life-changing highlight of his journey of conversion happened as he contemplated the cross on Good Friday. The significance of the cross is mentioned in our Oblate Constitutions and Rules, “The cross of Jesus Christ is central to our mission.” (C.4), as well, “Through the eyes of our crucified Saviour we see the world which he redeemed with his blood, desiring that those in whom he continues to suffer will know also the power of his resurrection.” (C.4)

When we look at the cross from the perspective of God’s love, the reality of sin and offering a living sacrifice, we are reminded that the crucifixion cannot be reflected on as an isolated event from the whole Paschal mystery. During the Last Supper, Jesus entrusted to us the continuous living sacrifice of the Eucharist: His Body given up for us and His Blood as the new covenant poured out for us for the forgiveness of sins. That same evening, Jesus taught us about sacrificial love expressed in service to others. On Good Friday Jesus redeemed us through the ultimate sacrifice of the cross when He died in order to give us life. The fact of the resurrection opens the way to renewed relationship with God. “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)

As the tragic news keeps unfolding from Ukraine, let’s give it all to Christ. Let us join all of the ugliness, suffering and uncertainty in the world to His cross – the cross that promises new life with Jesus’ Resurrection.

By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director