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Friday, April 2, 2010

good friday

They’re walking up Tome Hill this morning. Some started early, early and it’s only 5:30 now. Tome Hill is, I guess you would call it, a shrine. Catholic believers from all around make a pilgrimage on Good Friday to the top of it where there are crosses set up commemorating the hill of Golgotha.

Some carry heavy loads, posts, or crosses to the top of the hill and leave them there. Others just walk. I don’t suppose saying hundreds would be an exaggeration. Hundreds of people some with children, some with pets trailing them, some carrying water, some not, old, young and in between, some for 20, 25 miles away—they all walk up Tome Hill. To many it is an act of dedication, remorse, repentance, restitution, seeking for absolution of sin; for others, I’m sure, it is a tradition pursued in honor of not just Jesus, but past family members and commemoration of happenings long past. It is at the very least an impressive site.

I have divided feelings about the trek. The sentimental part of me finds a certain value in commemorating Christ’s suffering in this way. It is only a emotional self serving kind of feeling though. Call it self-gratification-doing something because it fulfills a need to be perceived as devoted to Christ and the Church, an admirable tradition perhaps remembering past years when the walk was made with much loved parents, grandparents, friends and family.

For many, though, the walk is one done as an act of contrition, as an atonement of sorts for committed sins and a sign of dedication to God. And here is where the sad part of it comes in. There is no atonement from God to be gained from subjecting the body to the privation of a long difficult walk to any place. Forgiveness comes only through true repentance. And true repentance can happen only between man and God. True repentance can only be achieved when sins are forsaken and the individual is changed.

To the child of God remembering the death of Christ bring heartache and tears. If the movie, The Passion of Christ, did anything good, it was to portray for thousands the reality of what Christ suffered for us. But for those thousands, it only brought a few minutes of tears and heartache; then it was forgotten. That suffering is of no effect if it is only remembered for a few minutes of empathy and sentimentality then forgotten throughout our daily lives.
For that great suffering to have meaning, it must take effect in our lives. It must result in our own sorrow and conviction and ultimately our repentence for sins. When that happens the cost of our sins will be paid by that suffering. Our love and gratitude will result in a deep and lasting change in the way we live.

Thank the Lord for a Savior! Thank the Lord for Saving Grace! Thank the Lord for enduring, keeping power that endures past a few days of sentimentality and self-imposed castigation and self-punishment that requires we return time after time and year after year seeking pardon!

Christ isn’t lying in a tomb. He isn’t hanging still on a cross with those horrific wounds. He came down from that cross to make a change in the hearts of men! He can and does and will live in your heart and mine!

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