ISAIAS 50:4:7; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew26:14-27:66

For us who have the gift of faith mere words are inadequate to express the impressions made by the events recounted in the Gospel we have just heard.   Saint Paul's reflections on the crucifixion in his letter to the Galatians in h second reading today are his attempt to suggest the depths of significance hidden behind the words of Matthews restrained account of the sufferings of the Redeemer.  The first point he makes is that Jesus who died on the cross is a divine person, who, Paul boldly affirms, did not hesitate to claim to be equal to God.   The Greek 'isos' can also be translated as "the same as God". His death on the cross was, and remains, an act of ultimate humility.   The measure of this lowliness of heart is the transcendent glory he now enjoys as the right hand of God as a reward for his obedience to the Father's plan for our salvation.

The passion of Jesus, culminating in his painful death on the cross, is revealed to belong as much to the Father as to his Son made man.   In fact, since Paul affirms earlier in this same Epistle, the Holy Spirit is "the Spirit of Christ", (Phil. 1:20) the whole Trinity is engaged actively in the passion of the incarnate Son.   Our Catholic Church is so centered on the events recounted in this Gospel as commented on by Paul that each Eucharistic celebration as it reenacts the death and resurrection of Jesus, engages the active presence of the whole of the Blessed Trinity.   Fully to participate in the mystery of the altar through the reception of communion requires more than an appreciation of the outstanding human character of our Lord.   There are any number of church members in these times not only in other denominations of Christians, but even among Catholics, who do not believe that the man who died on the cross I a truly divine person, and who, inevitably as a result, do not believe that the Catholic God is a Trinity of persons.   Yet a sizeable number take communion because it is a consolation for them.   Such practice is counter to the express discipline of the Church and to the repeated teachings of recent Popes.   Yet some priests encourage such abusive participation in communion, far from leading to true faith, as Protestant experience demonstrates, more readily leads to reinforce disbelief in the Eucharist as the risen body of the living Christ.

At this altar today, as we enter upon Holy Week that prepares for the victorious resurrection, we reaffirm our trusting faith in God's plan of salvation.   We here give thanks through this Eucharist that the Lord Jesus has died for us on the cross that we and all who put our hope and trust in him, might be received into the loving presence of the Father, to share His life for all ages unending. Amen.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger