Why did Jesus die?

Congratulations to our new bishop-elect, the Reverend Canon Audrey Scanlan, from the Diocese of Connecticut. You might read about her curriculum vitae on the Diocesan website. It will be a few months before Audrey and her family move to Harrisburg. During that time, the majority of the Standing Committees have to give their consent to her election before her consecration as a bishop later this year. A Diocesan celebration is planned for Friday, September 11. Her consecration is planned for September 12, 2015.

We come to that time of year when we celebrate the Paschal Mystery. The term <Paschal Mystery> is a shorthand way that the church uses to commemorate Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection. The briefest statement defining the Paschal Mystery is found in the familiar acclamation in Eucharistic Prayer A: “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.”

While we ought to be mindful of that Paschal Mystery always, we are especially focused on it during Holy Week. This year Holy Week is March 29 through April 4th, with Easter Sunday being on April 5th.

While it remains painfully difficult to think about the necessity of Jesus’ suffering and dying, the necessity of it stems from the way in God redeems the tragic dimension of life. For wonderful as life is, there is also that tragic dimension. People we love are struck down in tragic inexplicable auto accidents. People we love are struck down with dreadful illnesses. People we love turn up at school, or movie theaters, or in the mall on the wrong day and at the wrong time; being in the wrong place at the wrong time, they encounter the unimaginable. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, it is not right. It is unjust. But tragedy is an equal opportunity stalker, and if we have not yet encountered it in our lives, then we are compelled to be grateful.

Just because we have not encountered it in our lives does not mean that we will not. As they say in the financial planning business, “past performance is not a guarantee of the future.”

The cross of Jesus is a gift by which we can come to understand how God redeems tragedy. When I pray the Stations of the Cross, I seldom think about myself. Generally I think about all the instances of suffering and difficulty about which I know. Looking at the cross of Jesus becomes occasion of intercessory prayer. Jesus bore his cross because we all must indeed do the same. He taught us how that cross might become the way of life and peace, and we have much to learn from the cross of Jesus.

So, I pray that you will keep Holy Week prayerfully that you may be strengthened in hope and filled with the joy that was the hallmark of the first Christians.


Canon Greg+


About canongreg

I have been Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Wellsboro, PA since 1994.
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