From the Canticle of Zechariah to Easter
The Lenten season is almost over. Good Friday and Easter Sunday will be upon us shortly. Our journey of prayer and reflection, our efforts to deepen our knowledge of God’s workings in our lives and in history, is about to reach its ultimate conclusion in the events of Holy Week. During that week we will go through a spiritual roller-coaster of emotions from the happy welcome of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the terrors of Good Friday, to the unbelievable joy of Easter Sunday.
Back at Christmas time, which was such a short time ago, we were welcoming the infant Christ into our lives. This child was the fulfillment of all of the prophecies of the ancient prophets. Though he was an infant, we could also see hints of what was to come through him. We saw all of that clearly in the prayer of Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father:
In that prayer we see the promise of freedom that can only come from the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus, the Son of God had finally come after all those hundreds of years of prophecy. And he had come for one reason, to reunite us with the Father once and for all.
We are now entering that part of the liturgical year where the reason for that birth is revealed, and its ultimate purpose is fulfilled. That holy child, the very essence of pure innocence, will be suspended before us as a suffering man on the cross. We will witness, in the reading of the scriptures during our Good Friday services, the Lamb of God bearing all of our sins on his shoulders again. We will spiritually stand accused beneath that cross, but we will see Jesus looking down at us, each of us with unimaginable love. He will look each one of us in the eye and by that look we will know that we are forgiven. But our joy will not be complete until, on Easter Sunday morning, we will remember again his Rising from the tomb. Then we will know with true humility and grace that we are children of this loving God.
When Easter comes we will be able to understand Paul’s message in his letter to the Colossians: ʺBrothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.ʺ (Colossians 3:1-4) Thanks be to God!