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BEFORE THE CROSS | Seize each opportunity God gives us

The realities of faith are not general and abstract, they’re concrete and particular

Here. Now. This.

These are three key words in the readings this week. They can also guide our approach to Holy Week and our spiritual lives.

“Here is my servant whom I uphold.” These words of the prophet Isaiah originally pointed both to Israel and a mysterious suffering servant. Ultimately they point us to Jesus Christ, the suffering servant in the flesh. “Here.” The realities of faith are not just ideas — they become concrete in the life of Jesus Christ and in our own lives.

“Now is the Son of Man glorified.” These are the first words Jesus speaks when Judas leaves to betray Him. “Now.” This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. Maybe, like the cross, it doesn’t look the way we expected it to look. Maybe we thought that great events only happened in the past, or only in some future time. But God meets us here and now — in the cross of Jesus Christ and in our own lives.

“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar … This day shall be a memorial feast for you.” So the Israelites were told about Passover. “This is my body that is for you … This cup is the new covenant in my blood … Do this in memory of me.” So Jesus tells us about the Eucharist. “This.” The realities of faith are not general and abstract, they’re concrete and particular: this bread, this body, this person in front of me, this daily duty.

Part of the reason these words stand out in the readings is because they’re also key words for our spiritual lives. They point us to what the Catholic spiritual tradition calls “the sacrament of the present moment.” In his book by that name, Jean-Pierre De Caussade helps us to realize that God offers Himself to us not only in general, not only in great moments, and not only in some future fulfillment, but first and foremost in the concrete details of everyday life: in the here, now, and this.

During Holy Week we hear how Mary recognized and seized the moment, anointing Jesus’ feet in a great symbolic anticipation of His burial. We hear how Jesus “knew that His hour had come” and seized the moment, instituting the Eucharist as the great sacrament of His love.

Jesus didn’t miss the moments of Holy Week, skipping over them to get to the Resurrection. He allowed each moment to be what it was, and seized the opportunity in it. Will we do the same with each moment of Holy Week, or will we miss the opportunity in each moment because, in our hearts, we’re skipping ahead to Easter?

The same question applies to each day of our lives: Will we take each moment for what it is, and seize the opportunity God gives us in the moment, or will we miss the precious gift because we’re rushing ahead to something else?

Here. Now. This. These words can guide us into Holy Week, and train us for the everyday life of faith.

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