Friday, April 3, 2015 The Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)
On Good Friday, we journey with the Lord, the innocent servant of God.
For our sake he made him who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corr 5:21). Although this scripture quote from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is not part of today’s Good Friday’s readings, it best summarizes my thoughts when I think of today’s liturgy. It puts into perspective Jesus’ mission as he walks the path of Calvary.
In our first reading from Isiah (52), Jesus innocence was foretold by the prophet Isaiah; “condemned though he had done no wrong”. The servant has taken our sins upon himself; surrendering himself to death, “and he shall take away the sins of many and win pardon for their offenses.”
Then in John’s Gospel, Jesus human life comes to a transformation. Jesus says, “It is finished.” But this doesn’t mean “it is over.”
Rather it means “It is accomplished” or “It has been perfected”.
He has completed the task he was given by the Father. Jesus, the High Priest, sacrifices his own life as an offering / atonement for sins.
On Good Friday, the day that Christ was sacrificed, the Church meditates on the Passion of our Lord. We adore the cross and commemorate the origin of the Catholic Church through the water and blood that flows from the side Christ.
- The water and blood that symbolizes baptism and the holy Eucharist.
- From the lance that pierced the side of Jesus, the main two sacraments of the Church is born.
- It is the water and blood, the Body of Christ, the Church, the faithful.
- It is through the Church that we pray for the salvation for the whole world.
As Catholics, we understand our salvation comes from Christ crucified.
We know there is nothing we can do to earn salvation.
We are saved by His action on the cross and we are called to respond.
And to live out our Easter promise we must embrace the reality of the cross.
What cross do you embrace?
- When I walk into a church for the first time…I bless myself, look at the altar, the tabernacle, the crucifix
- Many of us have crosses and crucifixes displayed in our homes
- We wear them around our neck…mainly as a reminder of our Christian faith
- The crucifix I have hanging in my office…it is not easy on the eyes. It depicts suffering, pain and death. My wife says keep it in my office. Do not display it in plain sight. But it is the cross that I embrace.
When I think of embracing something, it tells me to make it my own, to make it my love…a true love.
True love is beautiful, but it can also be painful. The reality is that we are broken people, fearful, sinful and sorrowful people. It can be hard to love ourselves, much less others, as we reflect upon our own shortcomings, fears and faults.
When I reflect a little deeper of the many crosses that we carry in own lives, Jesus is not necessarily the first thought that comes to my mind, rather it is the cross we share with family and friends….typically it is that cross, the struggles within our own families that bring us sorrow.
When I think of the cross, I am more aligned with Mary, our Blessed Mother, and the sorrowful cross she carried in her heart as she watched her son be put to death. The same pain and love we experience as family.
In Christ crucified, the one hanging on the tree, we can see the ultimate true love.
Pope Francis reminds us that “the cross does not speak to us about defeat and failure.
It speaks to us out of love, the love of God incarnate, a love which does not die, but triumphs over evil and death.”
When we gaze at the crucified Lord on the cross, we re-create the experience of being loved not by our own merits but in spite of the fact that we are sinners.
Today is the day to bring all of those very real human feelings and to venerate the cross. Bring every part of you to the cross – your pains and your joys, your sufferings and your triumphs, your acceptances and your rejections.
Through the mystery of the cross…Christ experienced defeat and triumph at the same time. By aligning ourselves with Christ on the cross, we too will know triumph and defeat.
As we pray today, pray for all those around you who bring to the cross of Christ abundant joy, as well as deep pain and suffer.
- Pray for all of God’s people, and even those who do not know Christ.
- Pray that they will seek and find Jesus. Pray for the salvation of the world.
In closing, remember the words of Jesus, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (Jn 15:13) Let us remember that love.
Love gives us the courage to embrace the cross and return that love in gratitude.