I was once at a priest’s funeral in Boston. The preacher was one of the spiritual directors of the seminary. He began his homily with a phrase that he repeated several times during the homily: we are a resurrection people, and alleluia is our song.
How right he was! The resurrection is what makes us Christian. Without the resurrection there would be no Christianity, there would be no Mass today, there would be no eternal life, no good news, no gospel to preach. Even Saint Paul said that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain. Indeed we are a resurrection people, and alleluia is our song. But, as you know, every year during Lent we forego the alleluia. Right about now, I’m ready to sing that again. I miss this song. Why do we go without this during the season of Lent? I think it is the same reason that we spend today reading the passion of Christ. In fact, this whole week, Holy Week, is a week-long reflection on the passion and death of Christ. Why not go straight to the resurrection? Because Jesus didn’t go straight to the resurrection.
Indeed we are a resurrection people, but we will only understand what that means in light of the crucifixion of Christ. We will only understand the depth of Christ’s love by reflecting upon the depths of his suffering. And when we reflect upon the cross we see this simple truth: the resurrection can only take place because of the suffering of Christ. And if it was true for Jesus, it will be true for us Christians who bear his name: we too will participate in the resurrection of Christ if we patiently suffer our daily burdens as Christ did.
Before we celebrate the resurrection of Christ we must ponder his suffering and death, and when we do so it gives new meaning to our own suffering, which leads to eternal life. Indeed we are a resurrection people, alleluia is our song; but before we can celebrate the resurrection of Christ, we must ponder the mystery of Christ crucified.