Today, I will make a confession. A priest is often asked by lay people whether they have had a sweetheart. I will admit that I once did and I was reminded of her not so long ago. Like other teenagers, we were silly and foolish and I even carved our initials on a tree in our school. I was reminded of her when I was invited to the school to officiate its baccalaureate Mass. I looked for the tree and found it there still with our initials, though the love is no longer there.

I share this with you because today, we also reflect on four letters, I-N-R-1. Each Holy Week the churches are full. Some Catholics go to church to appraise their consciences, while others go for nostalgic visits. We recall the times we looked at the cross and realized how much God loves us.

When I saw the four letters inscribed on the bark of the tree that I made for my special friend, I said to myself:
Four initials to the tree,
Still therefor, others to see,
Four initials to the tree,
Is, all that is left of love.

When we see I-N-R-I, we also remember our original love for the Lord and our original promises to be good children. We remember our immaculately clean communion dresses and our immaculately clean baptismal dresses. Then we remember how we have soiled our baptismal dress, how much we have dirtied our first communion dress and how much we have taken for granted those four initials of love.

If love is authentic and true, it is everlasting. On Good Friday, I want you to remember those dreams of long ago when you wanted to serve God and serve Him as a holy person. Remember when we were children and we could receive Jesus with a purity of soul and an earnestness and say, “My heart is clean. I am ready to receive Jesus.”

So many things have happened since then. But as the four initials on the cross remain, there remains an invitation for us to rekindle our old love and original commitment to Jesus. May those four initials always keep us lovers of the Lord, only of the Lord.

Is 52:13-53
Jesus In My Heart


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