By Delia Chatoor
My late mother was noted for her elegance and her hats more so at Easter in the good ole days, it was necessary to acquire the best.
One Easter, the newly ordained and appointed assistant parish priest to the parish (name withheld to protect the innocent), had an encounter with my mother and her bonnet. To him it was unusual, which led him to whisper: “Which poor fowl had to be sacrificed for that getup?”.
He was assured that no bird was hurt in the making.
The use of the word ‘sacrifice’ at Eastertide, therefore, provides much food for reflection.
What is a sacrifice? It could be “the act of offering ceremoniously to a deity”; “the slaughter of an animal to placate a god” or “the surrender of something of value for the sake of something more important”.
When we consider Jesus’ actions, it may be argued that He surrendered Himself to a painful and humiliating Passion as a Paschal victim to make reparations for us—God’s people. This salvific act in obedience to the will of His Father was not a show but the reality.
In his Commentary on the Seven Penitential Psalms, the English bishop and martyr, St John Fisher wrote: “Our high priest is Christ Jesus, our sacrifice is his precious body which he immolated on the altar of the cross for the salvation of all men.”
His voluntary act offered once and for all attained what the repeated sacrifices of the Jewish high priests, on behalf of the people, could not accomplish (Heb 10:10–12).
Through the one act offered, Jesus took “his seat forever, at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting till his enemies are made his footstool” (Heb 10:12–13). This was the reward granted to Him by the Father and as we are co-heirs of that promise, we too will be welcomed partakers.
The Easter season opens for us newness and we can consider the message contained at paragraph 2100 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “the only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father’s love and for our salvation”.
When we unite ourselves with that sacrifice, “we can make our lives a sacrifice to God” and this fits one of the dictionary meanings mentioned.
While my mother’s hat was memorable and used only what was artificial, Jesus took time to explain to His disciples that He would be the “living sacrifice” so we should recall that at the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, sacramentally He is present with his sacrifice which He left to His bride, the Church.
As the Church begins a second Easter in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we should take time to offer our thanks to those who have sacrificed much of their time, talent and treasure to alleviate the suffering, loss and uncertainties wrought by it.
In the midst of what may appear to be insurmountable challenges, we could reflect on Jesus’ disciples who, following their Master’s death and burial, were despondent and uncertain. All this changed when they were greeted with the news: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified: he has risen, he is not here” (Mk 16:6).
My mother’s bonnet and the artificial feathers have retained their original freshness. But let us then believe that Jesus is the real thing, for He is “the Alpha and the Omega. All time belongs to him and all the ages”.
We should not seek Him in the tomb for He is risen!
Delia Chatoor is a retired foreign service officer and a Lay Minister of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando Parish.