The Conspicuous Absence of Things

The font is dry.  The bells are silent.  The tabernacle is bare.  On the one day of the year that no Mass is celebrated, the abnormal absence of these tangible reminders of who we are, ironically, makes us sit up and take notice.  Ordinarily, perhaps, we need Ordinary Time to hear the resplendent message of the Church’s highest solemnities, but today this seems to work in reverse.  It’s the liturgical grandeur of Palm Sunday, of Maundy Thursday, even of the Mass itself, that makes the bare-bones liturgy of Good Friday so significant: the conspicuous absence of things.

We have entered a three-day pause, a collective silent intake of breath, held in anticipation of the release of pent-up Alleluias, the resurrection of buried hope.  And as we wait, we perform one of the most radical liturgical acts that we do all year, as even the most dignified among us kneel before a suffering servant, kiss the feet of our crucified king, our anti-Caesar.  Ecce homo!  This is who we worship.  This extreme humility is our hope.

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