Sunday, April 13, 2014


   Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord   A 

One of our late priests used to tell the story
of being assigned to an Adirondack parish
where, during the fall, they would add
a Sunday evening “Hunters’ Mass” to the schedule. 
He discovered a box of offering envelops in a rectory closet
specially designed for the season:
they were marked with a picture of a deer
and the line, “We’re looking for a buck, too…”

St. Hubert is the patron saint of hunters.
A French nobleman of the very early Middle Ages,
Hubert decided to go hunting one day—
Good Friday, to be precise—
when most everyone else was crowded into church.
A beautiful stag came into view
and, as he pursued it, 
the animal turned toward Hubert,
who saw the most amazing sight between its antlers:
a vivid, radiant image of Christ hanging on his Cross.
Hubert then heard a voice say,
“Unless you turn to the Lord and lead a holy life,
you shall quickly go down into hell.”
Hubert realized he’d been pursuing 
all the wrong things—
following his own way, instead of God’s.
He received instruction, was ordained a priest,
later consecrated a bishop, and died a very holy man.
It’s said that Hubert attracted many to the faith
by his great skill with a bow and arrow…
…but you can be quite sure
he never went out hunting on Good Friday again.

What will you be doing this Friday—Good Friday?

That day on which our Savor was crucified,
life in Jerusalem went on much like it did any other day:
people did not stop going about their usual business
just because another convicted criminal was being dispatched.
But for those who knew Jesus—
who had heard him speak so powerfully of God’s love
and seen him heal countless wounded bodies and broken hearts—
it was a day unlike any other, before or since.
Yes, this sin-weary world kept turning,
but it was given an entirely new axis
as the holy and life-giving Cross
was planted in the rocky soil of Golgotha.

The days are now gone—which some of you, no doubt, remember—
when businesses closed at noon on Good Friday,
and many families shut off their radios and televisions
to sit silently for three very solemn hours.
Our times, rather, look a lot like those of Jesus:
everything appears pretty much normal.

So I challenge you to make this Friday different.

Your work schedule may not allow you
to take part in any services here at church—
but that doesn’t mean it has to be another ordinary day.
Like St. Hubert,
heed the Lord’s call to change your course.
Rise early or stay up later
to spend some extra time in quiet prayer.
Embrace the Church’s tradition of fasting.
Make a visit to church,
even if you can’t make it to the liturgy.
Lay aside some of your usual pursuits,
recalling to what extraordinary lengths
the Lord was willing to go in order to pursue you:
emptying himself utterly;
the Almighty and Eternal God
becoming obedient and humble
even to the point of death.

What will you be doing on Good Friday?

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