Spring seems to be fighting to arrive! Winter still seems to have us in its death grip.
Please God, by the time you read this, it will be warm, bright, and green. Spring will have conquered!
But, as I pen this in the middle of this week we call holy, Winter still has us in a chokehold. There were even flurries on Palm Sunday!
God’s creation, and His creatures, are in Winter. We are dominated, not only by the clouds, cold winds, bare trees and dead grass of Winter, but by Sin, Satan, Selfishness and Death. We await an interior springtime; we yearn to put our spiritual winter behind us and let light, life, and goodness dominate us.
Bring on Passover: oppressive slavery in the bondage of Egypt is overthrown by the blood of a lamb, and God’s deliverance of His Chosen People to the Promised Land. The angel “passed over” the homes of God’s people marked by the blood of a lamb. God’s light guided His people to “pass over” from chains in Egypt to a new home and freedom in Israel.
Bring on Easter: control by the supernatural Winter orchestrated by sin, Satan, selfishness, and death is now defeated by the precious blood of the one John the Baptist called “the Lamb of God,” Jesus Christ. Our Lord “passed over” from the horror of the cross on Good Friday, a drama colored by violence, hate, lies, betrayal, earthquakes and eclipses of the sun to new life at Easter. The “light of Christ,” chanted at the vigil, leads God’s people, not through the waters of the Red Sea, but out of the waters of the baptismal font.
Last Tuesday I had the honor of presiding in St. Patrick’s Cathedral at the funeral Mass of Firefighter Michael Davidson, who died battling flames in a Harlem building.
Yes, it seemed Winter: the death of a brave and good man; the emptiness in the lives of his wife, Eileen, and her four little children; the tears of the NYFD mourning a fallen comrade; a sense of loss and asking why...this was Good Friday four days early. It was Winter.
Yet, Spring was also there: the warmth of embraces; the words of concern and support; the expansive love for Eileen and her family; and the faith of kin, neighbors, colleagues and friends who believe, that, for Michael, Easter had arrived early as well, that he was with Jesus in the eternal Spring where fire never harms, oxygen never runs out, and life never ends.
As Michael’s father, himself a firefighter, whispered, “What would we do without faith?”
The Passover goes on; Easter continues; Winter is on the run; Spring is victorious.
A blessed Passover to our Jewish neighbors!
Easter hope and joy to all!
“By dying, He destroyed our death!
By rising, He restored our life!”
Editor’s Note: Because of a mix-up at press time, this column was inadvertently omitted from CNY’s print edition. We offer sincere apologies to Cardinal Dolan and to our readers. Happy Easter to all.