Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
I can honestly say that for the last 40 years I have been driving, my driving record was almost “perfect,” until Jan. 26 at 4:50p.m.
On that day and time, I walked into the garage, got into the car, hit the remote for the garage door, put my car in reverse and then proceeded to back out. I followed every step that I learned from my driving instructor in high school, except for one thing: I forgot to look in the rearview mirror, causing me to hear this great big crunch that still reverberates through my ears and mind, the sound of a garage door being forced off its track and ripped apart.
Needless to say, the first words out of my mouth were not, “Uh-oh, you better get Maaco!” I can’t tell you what my first words were, but I want you to know that since my accident, I have confessed my inappropriate thoughts and my words in order to reconcile with God and the whole kingdom of heaven.
Taking my weakness to God was the easy part; however, acknowledging my absentmindedness to my congregation was a little more humbling, to say the least. Although my family and friends here at St. Marguerite were nothing but merciful, compassionate and understanding, I assured them that because I was fully responsible for “running into” the garage door that got in my way, I would “cowboy up” and pay the total expense for a brand new garage door.
With my debt now “paid in full,” my new garage door is a helpful reminder: “Kenny don’t forget to look behind you!”
As we prepare for Easter, and every day for that matter, you and I have an opportunity to “look in the rearview mirror” in order to appreciate what our God has done for us in the past. We also have an opportunity to look through our “side-view mirrors” to see what our God is presently doing for us today, and we have an opportunity to look through our “front windshield” to see what our God has planned for our future.
In our journey of faith, the kingdom of heaven is our goal, but let’s not lose sight of what God has done — is doing — and will continue to do for us day by day, every step of the way. As we adjust the mirrors within our vehicle and the mirrors of our faith, may we continue to look back to the Old Testament, while keeping our eyes on the New Testament and while looking forward with hope to the New Jerusalem promised in Revelation, Chapter 21.
As our guide, compass and GPS, the Word of God calls all of us to “look in the rearview mirror” and to remember God’s providence and omnipresence: “Remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt (Deut. 7:18).” “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there (Deut. 24:18).” “Remember the wonders he has done (Psalm 105:5).” “Remember this, fix it in mind, take it to heart … Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God and there is no other (Is. 46-8-9).”
If there has ever been a group of people who has shown us how to “look in the rearview mirror” and to remember God’s providence, it has been the Jewish people who for hundreds of years has celebrated the Passover: During the Passover, God’s people celebrated a special meal. … The meal involved eating bitter herbs (to remind them of the bitterness of the years of slavery). It also involved the eating of bread without yeast (to remind them of the speed at which they needed to leave Egypt) and it involved the sacrifice of a lamb whose blood was to be spread over the doorposts of their homes, so that when the “destroyer” came, he would pass over their homes and allow them to live (Exodus 12:24-27).”
As the Passover Lamb of God, Jesus offered up his body and blood there in that Upper Room and poured out his blood and water there on the Cross to remind us, yes, of that first Passover there in Egypt with the deliverance of the Israelites, but most importantly, to enlighten us today about the deliverance, freedom and salvation that we have through Christ, with Christ and in Christ, the True Lamb of God.
By celebrating the Passover and becoming the Lamb of God for us, Jesus announced to the world that “For years his people celebrated the Passover, but it was only a shadow of good things to come (Hebrews 10:1): Now, the real thing is here! The True Lamb of God is standing before us today. We can look to the past in order to see the Old Testament’s sacrifices with the blood of the lambs, and we can look to the future to see the Lamb of God there in heaven (Rev. 5:6); but how blessed we are as Christians to have the Lamb of God pouring out his blood and life and love and salvation for us — today.
In that Upper Room, Jesus announced, “Do this in remembrance of me (1 Cor. 11:24).” With the Lord’s words, we have a great call from the Lord to not forget the history of our salvation, which came to us through his blood. It’s also a call from the Lord to help us recognize that he is present among us now and forever. With the Lord’s Passover, he has given us a chance to look back, to look forward and to look to the sides, but most importantly, through his death and resurrection, he’s given us a chance to look up:
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:2).”
As we celebrate the Lord’s Passover with his death and resurrection, let us remember to travel safely: Don’t drink and drive, buckle up, slow down at the amber lights, come to a complete stop at a stop sign, look both ways, and oh, yes, remember to use the rearview mirror!
Rev. Vialpando is the priest at St. Marguerite Catholic Church in Tooele.