The World’s First Love

The World’s First Love
Fulton J. Sheen
(St Pauls, 2013, first published 1952)

Venerable Fulton Sheen explains Mary’s significance in a book brimming with faith and insight.  He incisively covers topics ranging from God’s plan for our salvation and events where Mary appears in the Bible, to the Assumption, the rosary and the seven sorrows of Mary, also discussing some concerns of his time, such as gender equality and the spread of Marxism and Communism.

These are my highlights from his book.

Mary’s place in our Lord’s life
As Mother of God, Mary is unique among all human beings; as our Lord is special, His mother is also special.  Any discussion of Mary rightly begins with a proper understanding of our Lord, and with a proper understanding of Jesus and His divinity, we should have no problems with questions such as:

  • why Mary is called Mother of God
  • how and why she became a virgin mother, and
  • why we honour Mary.

Honour for Mary never replaces honour for Jesus; in fact, her “main ministry” is to lead us in obeying Jesus’ will.  Regardless of whether a person thinks he or she needs Mary, the fact is “He needed her” – she is intrinsically a part of His life, a fact that is sealed by the Holy Spirit. Sheen beautifully uses the image of the sun and moon to explain that Mary has her role but she never outshines Jesus: “God, Who made the sun, also made the moon.  The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun… All light is reflected from the sun.”

The life of the Holy Family
Is it significant that Jesus spent 3 hours on the cross dying for us, 3 years in public ministry teaching us, and 30 years in the Holy Family in obedience to His parents?  The answer should be obvious, and it is important to note that our Lord “humbled Himself in obedience to His parents”, which also indicates that it is God who approves the place of those in positions of authority.

Mother Mary holds up Jesus – Our Lady of Sheshan statue at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Taipei

What do we learn from Mary?
Mary’s fiat – saying yes to God
Mary sets the ultimate example of doing the will of God, by submitting her will to God’s.  We, too, receive God’s grace in baptism, through which we become temples of God, and we also can align our wills with God’s will by choosing to live upright lives and in our practices that lead to holiness, such as receiving the sacraments, prayer and sacrifice.

Mary’s Magificat – praising God
Mary shows us how prayer can be praise, without petition. One is able to pray in this way when one’s heart is open to God – “the more empty the soul is, the greater the room in it for God”.  There was no room at the inn for Jesus, because the inn was already “filled”. Instead, there was room in the stable, and that emptiness was where Jesus could be born.  With such an attitude of emptying herself for God, Mary easily converts Elizabeth’s praise into glorifying God.

Mary’s visit – serving others
With Christ in her, Mary hurries to be of service to her cousin: “the handmaid of the Lord becomes the handmaid of Elizabeth”.  With Christ in us, we must likewise go out to serve others.

When one considers Mary from various theological and spiritual angles, we can see why Sheen talks of her as the “Dream Woman before women were”.

♫ Definitely makes me want to sing Ave Maria!

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Jesus the Bridegroom

Jesus the Bridegroom:
The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
Brant Pitre
(Image, 2014)

The story of salvation history, as told in the Bible and the other sources, often uses the images, symbols and language of the Jewish wedding, hence the title of this book.  As he does in Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, Pitre bases his exploration on the Bible as well as non-Biblical Jewish sources, taking us beyond just knowing that there is the wedding supper of the Lamb.

What struck me most about the book were all the connections among different parts of the Bible and the marriage-related interpretations.

From the Old Testament – God as Bridegroom
The Covenant on Mount Sinai

What happened Wedding references
God made His covenant with the twelve tribes of Israel, who received the Ten Commandments and offered their bloody sacrifice in worship.  Moses threw the blood on the altar (representing God) and the elders (representing the people), and this new relationship was marked with a “heavenly banquet”.

 

In later times, prophets sometimes referred to this momentous covenant in marriage-like terms.  For example:

“Thus says the LORD, ‘I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.’”
(Jeremiah 2:1-2)

Then came the golden calf episode, when Israel’s idolatry broke the covenant. Prophets would later speak of this in adultery-like terms, such as in:

“You also took your fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the harlot… Were your harlotries so small a matter that you slaughtered my children and delivered them up as an offering by fire to them?” (Ezekiel 16:15-21)

God, as we know, will not rest till He brings His people back and promises a new covenant. This future covenant is also referred to in marriage-like terms, such as in: “… you will call me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal.’… And I will make for you a covenant on that day…. And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.
(Hosea 2:16-19)


Song of Songs: the future wedding
Pitre lists examples of references to God in other books that distinctly match the bridegroom of the Song of Songs and references to Israel, as represented by Jerusalem and the Temple, that match the bride.

Here are a couple of examples:

Other books Song of Songs
I will take you for my people, and I will be your God. (Exodus 6:7, cf. Leviticus 26:12) I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.(Song of Songs 6:3)
In front of the house [Solomon] made… chains like a necklace and put them on the tops of the pillars; and he made a hundred pomegranates and put them on the chains.(2 Chronicles 3:15-16) Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits.
(Song of Songs 4:13)


New Testament – Jesus as the promised Bridegroom
John the Baptist
John the Baptist’s announcement of the Messiah’s coming has wedding overtones.

Prophecy John the Baptist Significance
“… there shall be heard again the voice of mirth and the voice of joy, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD.”
(Jeremiah 33:11)
“… I am not the Messiah, but I am the one who has been sent before him.  He who has the bride is the bridegroom.  The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices with joy because of the voice of the bridegroom.” (John 3:28-29)

 

John, the “friend of the bridegroom”, plays a role like that of the best man, which was an actual role in the Jewish wedding celebrations.  His job was to “lead the bride to the bridegroom when the time for the wedding has come”.

So, here comes Jesus the Bridegroom.

The Wedding at Cana
There are prophecies referring to wine – missing and present – at a wedding banquet, as in:

Other books Wedding at Cana
“No more do they drink wine with singing…. There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has reached its eventide; the gladness of the earth is banished.”
(Isaiah 24:9, 11)
“They have no wine.” (John 2:3)
“… the Messiah will begin to be revealed.  And on one vine will be a thousand branches, and one branch will produce a thousand clusters, and one cluster will produce a thousand grapes, and one grape will produce a liter of wine.”
(2 Baruch 29:1-2)
Jesus turns “six stone jars… each holding twenty or thirty gallons” of water in to wine. (John 2:6)

When the wedding in Cana is juxtaposed with the Last Supper, we can understand that Jesus is not saying (rudely) to Mary, “Don’t bother me about this kind of thing now!” but: “It is not time yet for me to provide the wine of the banquet of YHWH.  I will provide that supernatural wine, but only at the hour of my passion and death.”  Instead, He performs the miracle, a “sign that points forward to the hour of his passion.”

The Samaritan Woman at the Well
This was for me a most enlightening chapter.

Some Old Testament well scenes echo the the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman.

Abraham’s servant met Issac’s future wife Rebekah at a well (Genesis 24:15, 15-16) Marriage formula that the Jewish audience would have recognised:

Male Foreigner + Woman + Well = Betrothal

 

Jacob met Rachel at the well
(Genesis 29:9-10)
Moses met his future wife at a well
(Exodus 2:15-17, 21)

Now for the significance of the Samaritan woman story.

What happens Significance
Jesus requests for a drink. (John 4:7) “I thirst.” (John 19:28)
She is non-Jew and it is “not customary (or acceptable)” for a Jew to talk to her. But Jesus talks to her, a sign that God is now not only going to “wed himself” to the Jews but also non-Jews.
They talk about her six men and she admits “I have no husband.” (John 4:17)

The Samaritan people called their male gods “Baal”, the Canaanite word for “husband” or “lord”. Evidence shows they had five male gods and the Jewish historian Josephus also notes five Samaritan cults.  Apart from these gods, they also worshipped YHWH the God of Israel (their sixth “Baal”).

“… he whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18) indicates that the Samaritan people do not have YHWH as a “true husband” because their worship of Him “has been tainted by the influence of the worship of false Gods and because they are in schism with the Jewish people.”

 

Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah, and the woman goes off to tell her people about Him, and they “believed in him”.
(John 4:25-26, 28-30)This series of actions parallels the stories of Zipporah and sisters going home to their pagan father before Moses stays with them and marries her (Exodus 2:19-21), and Rachel going home to her father and family before Jacob goes there (Genesis 29:12).
As a result of the woman’s encounter with Jesus and her going off to tell herpeople about Him, the Samaritan people are “betrothed” to the true God.

 

Jesus offers the Samaritan woman the gift of “living water”.

This recalls the Jewish belief about the “miraculous living water” of Jacob’s well, the “living water” that is mixed with ashes for the sacrificial sin offering (then sprinkled as “cleansing sacrificial water” using “hyssop”, no less), and the Jewish bride’s pre-wedding ritual bath.

Jesus gives this living water with His death on the cross and cleanses God’s people (the bride) of impurity.

Coming after various texts referring to baptism, the scene at Jacob’s well is also linked with this idea of cleansing by water.

 


The Crucifixion – the wedding day arrives

What happens Wedding references
Early in His public ministry, Jesus identifies Himself as the bridegroom:

“Can the sons of the bridechamber fast while the bridegroom is with them?
(Mark 2:12-20)

 

During the Jewish wedding preparation, the “best man” (= John the Baptist) and the “sons of the bridechamber” (= disciples) are on hand to help the bridegroom (= Jesus).

Jewish sources indicate that the bridechamber was decorated in a way similar to how the Tabernacle was decorated, “Blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen” (Exodus 25:4).

On the day of his crucifixion, Jesus wears a “seamless garment” and a crown of thorns.

 

The Jewish bridegroom wears a crown-like ornament, as in: “the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding” (Song of Solomon 3:11).

He is also dressed in attire like a priest’s garment, which “shall have in it an opening for the head, with a woven binding around the opening… that it may not be torn.” (Exodus 28:31-32)

Blood and water flow from Jesus’ side, so at His death, His bride, the Church, comes to be. This recalls how Eve was created from Adam’s side, after he was in a “deep sleep” (Genesis 2:21-22).


The Bridegroom shall come again

Jesus as the Bridegroom Wedding references
Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to “prepare a place” for them in His “Father’s house” (John 14:2-3) The Jewish bridegroom prepares the home for his bride before taking her there.
He will come for us at an unknown time. In the parable of the wise and foolish maidens, the bridegroom arrives unexpectedly at midnight and the five wise ones are taken in for the marriage feast.


Significance for our lives
In our different states of life, each of us is called to be a “living icon” of Jesus.  Celibate and consecrated persons strive for “configuration to Christ”.  Married couples model their relationship on the love of Christ and His Church.  Husbands are to be self-sacrificial in a Christ-like way, while wives are “under the mission” (as in sub-missio, in Latin) of this love, just like the Church in relation to Christ. In this way, marriage will lead to the “sanctification and salvation” of both husband and wife.

There are many other cross references and explanations so you will have to read the book for a fuller understanding of the concept of Jesus as the Bridegroom!

There are Easter verses (not included in this version, though) for Glory in the Cross  and the last one goes:
God has wed creation on the tree of hope where the darkness becomes our light.
Let us join in the dance of heaven and earth, give thanks for the goodness of God.
Let us ever glory in the cross of Christ and the triumph of God’s great love.

 

A Mother’s Sleep

So tired she was
but sleep kept its distance,
refusing to dry the mother’s tears.

So silent the night
but she could still hear
loud hammering of nails, angry shouts and jeers.

So alone she felt,
as he must have been,
when to God’s hands He would have been clinging.

So quiet the home
though a new son was here,
himself full of grief – what must he be pondering?

So sad to think
that His loving heart and hands,
now cold and still, would do no more.

So comforting to recall
how they found him again
when they lost him on the way, so many years before.

So clearly the words came back to her –
Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me:
            and holy is His name.

So sure the hope
of sunrise tomorrow,
God’s promise that He is ever and always the same.

Then the mother slept.

 

The Catholic Table

The Catholic Table: Finding Joy Where Food and Faith Meet
by Emily Stimpson Chapman
(Emmaus Road Publishing, 2016)

In our country, it sometimes seems like one is surrounded by cuisine of different cultures, not to mention what is in the cooking pots of our neighbouring countries. Yet, I have never thought all that much about food from a spiritual perspective. Hence, this book has been helpful in “learning to see food with Catholic eyes”.

Emily Chapman’s message is that food is a “sign of the Lord’s goodness, abundance, creativity, and love”. Therefore, when we do not understand food in this way, we are headed for bodily and spiritual damage.

Food in Sacred Scripture
Food appears all over the Bible, right from the Garden of Eden to the meal of all meals, the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9). It is an important part of the covenants God made with man and features in a number of prophecies and psalms. God supplied generously, such as in the “land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 33:3) and the “bread of angels” (Ps 78:25), and specified the food instructions that would set His people apart. It is the theme of some parables and miracles and most importantly, Jesus Himself became “the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51).

Food as Sign and Sacrament
Food is a sign that indicates what gives it its full meaning – it signifies “important truths about man, life, community, and ultimately, God himself”.

At the highest level, the Eucharist is the sign of Food as the source of “comfort, love, healing, joy” and as the force that binds people together.

Fasting – Hungering for Christ
Nowadays, people sometimes talk about substituting our fasts from food with fasting from something else.  In fact, fasting from “actual food” is required. Our bodies and souls are “inextricably linked” and fasting strengthens our souls. Chapman further explains that the saints who famously fasted prodigiously did so not to show their holiness but to “draw nearer to the hungry, suffering Christ”, and to “become more like him”. Learning from their examples, we should understand that fasting is not a “punishment” although it is certainly a way to make reparation for our sins; it is a way to come close to God.

Feasting – Rejoicing with Christ
At the end of a period of fasting comes the feast, and feasts were of great importance to the Israelites. They had feasts for occasions such as marriages or success in battles, and to welcome visitors, even strangers. There were the spiritual Feast of Passover, Feast of Weeks and Feast of Tabernacles, which all commemorated what God had done for His People. In New Testament times, Jesus participated in these religious feasts as well as many social ones.

With all this eating, one might worry if we are veering into gluttonous behaviour. Chapman clarifies that gluttony is a “vicious form of self love” whereas rejoicing in God’s goodness is celebrating what He provides. In both our mundane daily meals and on special occasions, we have the choice between greed and virtue, and we can choose to strengthen and exercise our “spiritual muscles”, in faith, hope and charity.

A very important reminder for me is that being fixated on what to eat or not to eat can become as sinful as overeating, when this becomes an idol we obsess about. While it is essential to take care of ourselves, “the body is not a god to worship” and what will matter when we come before God in the end is “how much we loved”, not how much or what we ate or not.

It is a testimony to the goodness of the food God provides that Chapman moved from being trapped in her eating disorder for years into someone who enjoys her food and hosting her friends to meals, and expounds on a theology of food. You might want to read more from her at her blog The Catholic Table.

She includes a recipe at the end of each chapter. Unfortunately, these recipes are not what I normally eat so I have unabashedly added pictures of food that is more familiar to my stomach!

There are also short snippets on food advice, hospitality tips and stories of saints related to food, such as St. Anthony of Egypt, patron saint of butchers although a vegan, Doctor of the Church St. Hildegard of Bingen, who wrote on topics such as cooking, nutrition and cookies(!), and St. Honore, patron saint of bakers (so after many years, I have the answer to my question about the name of this shop).

♫ Makes me think of Taste and See

 

 

His Name Was Joy

The young maiden was first to hear
the good news from on high.
God’s Spirit stilled her fear,
as she handed her life to Him.

His Name was joy,
He came to us thus –
A little boy,
God with us.

The just man turned his thoughts to sleep,
the angel’s voice brought peace,
God’s message clear and deep,
as he opened his home to Him.

His Name was joy,
He came to us thus –
A little boy,
God with us.

The child and his mother both heard
warm greetings with pure joy,
God’s grace on the blessed,
as they readied the way for Him.

His Name was joy,
He came to us thus –
A little boy,
God with us.

The shepherds were amazed to see
bright light clothing the night.
God’s choir sang His glory,
as they hastened over to Him.

His Name was joy,
He came to us thus –
A little boy,
God with us.

The devout man and woman knew
the blessing of the Child,
God’s promise now come true,
as they uttered their praise of Him.

His Name was joy,
He came to us thus –
A little boy,
God with us.

The wise men did rejoice to go
the way the star would lead,
God’s light for them to know,
as they offered their gifts to Him.

His Name was joy,
He came to us thus –
A little boy,
God with us.

artwork by Elijah Michael Tan

How the Choir Converted the World: Through Hymns, with Hymns, and in Hymns

How the Choir Converted the World:
Through Hymns, with Hymns, and in Hymns

by Mike Aquilina
(Emmaus Road Publishing, 2016)

Back in the 80s, when people were talking about back-masking and I was listening to a lot of “charismatic” music, I never bothered to learn about the Church’s experience with or teaching about music. It is only so many years later that this book has come my way now and finally, the real meaning of “Christian music” is beginning to come together in my mind.

The “choir converted the world” because music was a weapon that strengthened the faithful, protected and disseminated the faith and fended off the faithless.

As with many other elements of our Church, it all began with the way the Jews used music.

The Musical Tradition of the Israelites
Music was very much a part of Jewish life and worship and the Israelites’ musical tradition was known and appreciated even by their neighbours and captors, as we can see from the example of the Babylonians demanding that the Israelites sing for them (Psalm 137:1-4).

Some interesting points about the Jewish musical tradition:

Connection between music and prophecy
The Hebrew word for “make music” also means “prophecy”, and this music involved using musical instruments such as the tambourine and dancing, as in the examples of Miriam (Ex 15:20-21)and Deborah (Judges 5:12).

Commemoration of important events with music
Music and song were significant in major life events, such as in Hannah’s prayer (1 Samuel 2:1-10) and some of David’s psalms.

Role of David, king composer
David’s psalms ranged from personal prayers to songs for public worship. With him, all musical instruments were suitable for praising God and his psalms became the foundational model for songs of worship.

Musical instruments
The first record of liturgy starts with the sounding of the trumpet in the exodus. In the Old Testament, the trumpet signifies God’s presence and is also used in war and sacrifice. Other instruments recorded include the harp, tambourine, flute and lyre, all of which are connected with prophesying.

The Israelites’ Apprehension about Music as Used by the Pagans
Although music was so entrenched in Jewish life and worship, the Israelites were well aware that it was also an important part of worship in the pagan temples. Isaiah, for example, warned about being trapped in this potent mix of music, wine and food (Is 5:11-12).

Early Christians’ Apprehension about Music as Used by the Pagans
This suspicion about music carried over into the early Church as music was also a significant element of pagan worship of the time. The Greek and Roman empires had rich traditions of music, which, like their other forms of art, were rooted in religion, and music was strongly associated with worship practices such as those relating to their gods or to evil spirits, and their wild revelry, orgies and rites of human sacrifice.

Thus, early Christians kept their distance from music. It just had too many heinous associations and they also saw that it had a direct effect on a person’s “moral behaviour”. Commenting on this point, Aquilina adds a reminder that modern popular music does also link to the “worst behaviour”.

Music in the Early Church
Nevertheless, music was used in the early Church, one of the obvious ways being in the musical traditions inherited from Jewish practice. Songs were commonly used in private and public worship. As the early generations of Christians continued to worship in the Temple and synagogues, they would have sung the psalms that Jesus and His disciples, and generations of Israelites before them, would have sung. The New Testament records the use of music in the early Church, such as in St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (3:16-17). Bible scholars recognise hymns within some epistles, such as Ephesians 5:14, 1 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13. Revelation records a number of singing scenes.

Early Christian Music
The earliest evidence of Christian music was a hymn written with its notation on a piece of papyrus, just before year 300. By then, Christians were using psalms as well as some music based on Greek and Roman music styles although, on the whole, they tended to exclude dancing and musical instruments due to their pagan associations. There were Christians who argued that since people enjoyed music, it could be used to attract them to God. However, many early Christians felt that converts were not searching for what they used to have as pagans and so there was no need to adopt pagan styles of music. Eventually, early Christians developed “simple and vocal singing”, and here, we see the role of specific musical saints.

For example, St. Ignatius of Antioch introduced “antiphonal” singing, in which the congregation sang responses in “one voice”. This style of music was an expression of being in union with the whole congregation as well as with the whole of creation, in praise of God.

Music in the Battle against Heresy
Some leaps in the development of early Christian music arose out of staving off heretics. Some heretics gained a lot of success partly with “catchy tunes” to attract converts, resulting in some Christians distancing themselves even more from music. Others, on the other hand, took on the heretics at the music arena and turned it into a Christian victory of sorts.

By then, “private psalms” were written and sung, and Arius used this genre to promote his brand of beliefs, together with his set of “catchy melodies”. Other heretics such as Marcion, Valentius, Bardaisan and his son Harmonious wrote their own psalms. Some heretical psalms are also found in the “acts” of several Apostles; these were mostly the work of heretical sects.

In response, the Church specified that only psalms from Scripture could be used. St. Ephrem of Syria adapted Harmonious’ method of hymn-writing (Harmonious had developed a form of poetry by modifying Greek rules of metre and music for the Syriac language), established and trained female choirs (Bardaisan method) and wrote hymns that were theologically and spiritually sound and yet easy for people to comprehend and memorise. Some of his hymns specifically targeted the false teachings of Arius and Bardaisan.

Another saint who played his musical part was St. Ambrose, a prominent figure in the battle against Arius. He developed the Ambrosian Rite, a form of the chant with antiphonal singing of short lines and catchy rhythms. Many of his hymns end with a verse of doxology in praise of the Trinity. With his grounding in classical poetry, his musical work also engaged the “intellectual elite”. Most Church music composed in Latin during the Middle Ages continued to use his 8-syllable verse metre.

Elsewhere, much work went into preserving the faith, such as in a long poem composed to disprove the Marcionite heresy and in the new western style of hymns developed by musicians such as St. Hilary of Poitiers.

Thus, in some way, it was Christian music that beat the heretics at their game.

Theology of Christian music
The next stage was the development of a sound understanding of the role of Christian music. St. Augustine was among those who were cautious about indulging in the pleasure of music. Importantly, his conversion began with his hearing a child sing. Eventually, he developed the explanation that if music is used correctly, it should lead us to the “higher things on which we should be focused”. Thus, the Christian musician is responsible for ensuring that the music leads the faithful “upward”. With music understood in this light, it became legitimately part of Christian liturgy.

In time, the role of music in the liturgy developed and “cantor” became an office of the Church. Years down the road, the Gregorian chant was developed and more years further down, after Guido of Arezzo’s invention of the musical staff, Church music grew to include more singers, voices, choruses and orchestras, blossoming with the many inspired Mass settings and religious music that came from the pens of various composers.

Te Deum: Our “Catholic Fight Song”
In the tradition of drowning out the attractions of pagan and heretical music and ideas, the Te Deum is a typical Catholic hymn filled with spirituality and theology, such that some see it as “the Creed set to music”. It has inspired many composers to write the music for its words and Holy God, We Praise Thy Name is the English form by which many of us know it.

Looking at these centuries of musical history, we can see that music was a gift from God that man in return could use to glorify Him. At the same time, it was a source of strength and, when used correctly with the correct spiritual substance, it gave Christians the power to preserve the right teachings, and right worship of the right God. Hence, it can be said that it was Christian music that helped defend Christianity against all sorts of attacks.

May our songs and music continue to defend our faith and to convert the world.

♫ Definitely time to sing Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

 

 

Cross of the Son of God

Near the cross
They watched and waited.
Some laughed, some cried,
One’s eyes were opened and he saw
The Son of God.

Beside the cross
They hung and laboured,
One’s last minutes bitter, the other’s hopeful,
Calling out to be saved, by
The Son of God.

At the cross
They kept vigil and received,
Her sorrow profound, his sadness sincere,
The gift of a son, the gift of a mother, from
The Son of God.

On the cross
He bled and suffered,
Heart pierced, soul pained,
Pouring out love, offering forgiveness,
The Son of God.

In the cross
We hope and live.
For its pain, He won glory,
For its death, life, as He triumphed,
The Son of God.

written for Spotlight (September 2013)