"and there they stripped him of his clothes"
At the Solemn Liturgy today I was struck by your absence, and yet of the mysterious presence of the whole Church.
Today. we who are not poor during this time of pandemic have suddenly discovered how poor we really are, and how fragile we and our world are.
We have been stripped of so much which a month ago we felt could never be taken away; liberty, friends, community, some of us live with death or sickness a little too close for comfort
especially those in the healthcare services but also others who have to work at this time so we can eat. and if necessary travel.
Still we are in a far, far better place many people; refugees and migrants are an obvious example.
But we have been stripped of something so very important to us, the sacraments and the Sacred Liturgy and the consolation of our brothers and sisters in the faith.
We are in similar position to those saints who left everything to become solitaries in the desert or the forests far from other human beings.
The word 'monachus', from which we get 'monk', means 'one alone'. For us Catholics the desert and the experience of the solitary hermit is important.
In the Eastern Rites the newly baptized receive the monastic tonsure, a reminder that all the baptized share in the contemplative life.
Monastic life is important, the priest who is ordained to offer Mass alone everyday of his life and to pray alone, has always been regarded as the highest form of Christian living.
Now, for us even the sacraments are taken away, how blessed we priests are not only to offer them but to receive them not only for ourselves but on your behalf and yet for all Christians the only thing that matters,
the most important thing in the Universe the very centre of all being is Cross of Jesus Christ Our Lord.
I pray the when we come out of this experience we will have learnt to be alone and naked before the Crucified who died alone and naked for us.
For by His Cross and by his Cross alone are we saved.
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