neděle 13. března 2016

Veiling of the Cross (2016)

Veiling of the Cross (2016)
Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 13th March 2016 in Prague, Czech republic
If you visit a church this Sunday, you will note that the Crosses are veiled. Is this just a traditional custom or does it have a deeper sense?
I would like to enumerate a few reasons for the veiling of the Cross on Passion Sunday: 
1. The Cross is veiled because Jesus withdraws from his enemies
Today's Gospel ends by the words: “And he hid and went away from the temple.“
Pay attention to the order! He hid – and then he went away from the temple. How was this possible?
He was in their sight – but it is said: “And Jesus hid.“
Jesus withdraws from his enemies. What a punishment, what a tragedy! This is certainly God's greatest punishment for the one who constantly refuses his gifts. God does not have to imagine a special punishment. He just withdrew from man: this is punishment enough!
Let us have a look at economy, at politics, let us look up to the leaders of the Church. On the surface they are all well, yet they are helpless. Those who are responsible rejected Christ and his rights – and now Christ has withdrawn from them. Every day is filled with new surprises, with new Job's news. And thus it continues, the decline can no longer be stayed off if they do not return to faith!
2. A second reason for the Church to veil the Cross is the fact that in our daily life the Saviour comes towards us with veiled Crosses again and again
We do not understand the Cross, our nature rebels against it. We put up a fierce resistance to the Cross. But how could we rebel against the Cross, if we saw our Saviour on it? He is usually hidden in our daily Cross.
The Cross is only unveiled on Good Friday, first the head, then the arms and finally the whole corpus of Christ. We then genuflect thrice before we kiss the Cross.
It is just the same with our daily Crosses. Very often weeks, months or sometimes even years pass by before we see the Saviour under our Cross, before we can accept it, even love it, and kiss it.
The same thing happened even to saints. The Cross became their blessing, their sheet anchor. Where would be Saint Ignatius of Loyola today, had he not been wounded. Where would be a Saint Margaret of Cortona, had her husband not been murdered, Saint Frances of Chantal, had her husband not been wounded when hunting, Saint Francis Borgia, had he not seen the corpse of the queen Isabella.
3. A third reason is the fact that often we only then appreciate the goods when they are taken from us
We only appreciate health when we fall ill.
We only appreciate work when we are unemployed.
We only appreciate some fellow-men when they are taken from us.
Therefore the Church takes the look at the Cross away from us, so that we begin to appreciate it again.
4. A fourth reason is the medieval custom of the hunger cloth, which blocked up the sight on the sanctuary - as a sign that Heaven is closed to us due to a sin and that it will only be opened to us again by the Cross
The hunger cloth usually was suspended on Ash Wednesday and removed on Good Friday at the words of the Passion: “And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom“. (Mt. 27:51)
Later, however, not the whole sanctuary was veiled but just the Crosses and the statues of the saints.
5. A fifth reason for veiling the Cross is the fact that the Cross is a mystery
In liturgy every mystery is veiled: the chalice in the tabernacle which contains the most Holy Sacrament of the altar, the chalice which the priest carries to the altar for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the Cross during Passiontide.
The Cross is a great mystery. Therefore even devout Christians ask: “Why do I have to bear such a Cross?“ – “Why just me?“ – “Why for such a long time?“
We have to act like children and therefore not ask. We shall merely believe that our Heavenly Father wants it or that He at least tolerates it. In his love for us He let His own Son to go the way of the Cross. And He wants us to follow him.
The Cross is a scandal to the Jews and a folly to the Gentiles.
Let us ask God that he might let us fathom deeper and deeper this mystery! Let us ask him for help and for the force to bear the Crosses with patience and humbleness! Our Saviour bore it although he was innocent, in order to open Heaven for us. Let us bear the Cross for our own salvation and for the salvation of many souls.