Good Friday

First reading                       Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Responsorial Psalm          Psalm 30(31):2,6,12-13,15-17,25

Second reading                   Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9

Gospel                                   John 18:1-19:42

When you look up at the crucifix, which is still veiled for the moment, or when you wear one around your neck as jewellery, what do you see? What does it provoke in you? Or has it become so familiar that it no longer stirs a response? There are many things it should provoke in us, dear brothers and sisters, but I want to make one suggestion. When we look at the crucifix, what is represented there is, in a sense, ourselves. Now I don’t mean that in a cheap psychological or humanistic way. I mean that when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and assumed our nature, he did it ALL the way. Even unto the most grievous suffering and death. He took on ALL that we are. Good Friday in that sense completes what began at Christmas when Jesus was born in the flesh. For being born is not the end of the human story. After we are born, we grow, but we also begin the process of dying. We face corruption, physical and moral. Sickness. Suffering. Pain. Loss of innocence. Sin. Injustice, and so forth. Eventually, we die. In the image of the crucified one we see our God, the second person of the Trinity, assume all that we are, every last tear drop, every last agony, every last drop of blood, unto the very last breath. The full weight of humanity’s sin and rejection of God. All this is embodied in Jesus Christ crucified, who became what we are. 

At the same time as embodying what we are, however, there is something more to the crucified. You see, to freely enter into the total depths and chaos of our suffering and death, ‘becoming sin though he knew no sin’, as it were, is so extreme. He didn’t have to do that. Why didn’t God just let us crash and burn and go our own way, as perhaps we deserve? Why did he take upon himself the utter depths of sin’s wages, though he had not earned them? This could only be done, dear brothers and sisters, out of a supreme and extreme love. Let us consider that. The Lord gets in the mess with us, and he does it to the end. Not out of curiosity! But out of an extreme and costly love. He’d rather die than see us die forever! Which brings me to my final point. The crucifixion accomplishes something. It must! Otherwise, it’s just another senseless death. Death came into the world through a tree, so God takes a tree, the cross, and uses it to reverse death. He enters death, gets to its dark dead end, and he pushes through it. He paves a new way, coming out the other side, new and transformed. The open tomb becomes a portal to a new existence. The cross becomes a doorway to what was lost by the first tree. We shall see this on the Sacred Night of the Resurrection.

My dear friends, the salvation Jesus won for us on the cross, is not automatic, however. In order to become what Jesus is who became what we are, we must hold onto him. We must pass through death with him, joined to the one who is Life so that we too can come out the other side alive! Only he can do that.So, dear friends, let us cling to the crucified one! Let us unite our own sufferings to his and take up our cross every day! Let us confess our sins so that they may be taken away! Let us return the extreme love with which Christ paid for us by holding on to him every moment of our lives, so that we too might taste the new life and joy of Easter. 

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