The Church gathers today to consider the mystery of sin and evil that oppress humanity. A day of silence is necessary to ponder the reality of human life, the forces of evil and the enormous power of good unleashed by the passion and resurrection of Christ. This day is commonly known as 'holy' because it allows us to relive the event central to our Redemption. It leads us to the nucleus of Christian faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist, the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus make up the heart and the key to both the liturgical year and the life of the Church.
On Good Friday we remember the passion, crucifixion and death of Christ. On this day the Church does not celebrate mass, but the Christian community gathers to revisit, in the light of the word of God, the sufferings of Christ that atone for this evil. “We want to rekindle in ourselves the living memory of the suffering which our Lord endured for us and to joyously prepare ourselves for next Sunday the true Passover, which the Blood of Christ has covered with glory, the Passover on which the Church celebrates the Feast that is the origin of all feasts” as stated in the preface for Easter in the Ambrosian rite.
As the holiest week of the Church’s year begins its climax today in the crucifixion and death of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, the possibility for a reflection is endless. In Jesus we meet the fulfilment of prophesy of Isaiah about the suffering and death of the Lamb of God. We learn of the offering of this Lamb which has been turned into the sake of the salvation of entire humanity. We recognize the weight of our sins on one man as he is tortured and killed for us.
“But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the punishment that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” Isaiah 52
Through all the whipping, torment, mockery and eventually His death, Mary remained. The agony and sorrow that must have pierced her heart, just as Simeon had predicted, is inconceivable. Yet Mary never left her Son’s side. She never allowed Him to be alone in His pain. It is unimaginable to even try to understand the misery that Mary experienced as she watched her beloved Son beaten and stripped of all dignity.
Just as she took John as her child, she opens her heart up to each one of us. She loves us and is always gently holding our hand, pulling us closer into a relationship with her Son. She is the most beautiful example of Jesus’ love for us. For not only did He give His life for our sake, He has also given His mother. And what a wonderful gift Mary is. She is the ultimate example of what it means to trust in God. Through her guidance, we can learn so much about following her Son and growing in a relationship with Him. She was the perfect disciple, and still is as she continues to intercede on our behalf and teach us about the love of God.
The first Sin in the Garden of Eden caused the birth of a Saviour for our salvation; the Second Sin of crucifying Jesus on the Cross caused our inheritance of Salvation. Good Friday brings us the mystery of Salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus suffers even today in all of us to bring the salvation of the World. Our pain, suffering, and tears for the sake of the well-being of our unfortunate brothers and sisters and the persecution we endure for being authentic and truthful point to the salvific gifts of Jesus on the Cross.
Let us listen to Jesus: My people, what have I done to you? Or in what I have grieved you? Answer me. During the veneration of the cross in the Good Friday liturgy, the instructions call for the singing of the Reproaches. In them a disappointed God asks us where He went wrong. Is it because I brought you out of the land of Egypt that you have prepared a cross for your Savior?
The Reproaches used to be mandated; now we rarely hear them – rarely have to confront them. Some might think them anti-Semitic because they are explicitly addressed to the Jews of Jesus’ time. But that would be to take them much too literally. They are addressed to all of God’s people, everywhere, every time. I gave you a royal scepter, and you have placed on my head a crown of thorns. My people, what have I done to you... Answer me.
It is important to face the fact that we have failed to live up to our Baptismal promises. Good Friday is not just a remembrance of a long ago event. The Church – we, collectively – are the sacrament of Christ for our world. We, the Church, all of us, have failed. It is we who must die to self today, so that we can rise again to the new life of self-giving in the risen Jesus. What more ought I have done for you, that I have not done? I planted you, my most beautiful vineyard, and you have become exceedingly bitter to me, for in my thirst you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.
The cross is a human offering of perfect obedience to God’s will. Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. Having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to those who obey Him. Today we are enfolded into Jesus’ own self-giving – enabled to offer our imperfect sacrifice so as to be transformed by His perfect offering. I have exalted you with great power; and you have hung me from a cross. My people, what have I done to you? Answer me!
CROSS can be understood as Christ’s Redemptive Offering which Saved Sinners. The sacred presence of Cross unfolds a history of God’s personal love for humanity. The relationship between the Cross and Christianity is so unique that one represents the other; one contains the other; and one discloses the other.
The history of Cross passed its evolution from a secular punitive symbol to the most powerful and divine symbol of human salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Judgement and salvation are symbolically present in the Cross of Christ and they are expressed through the mysteries of his death and resurrection. Cross passed from a thing to a message; and from a message to a realization.
Cross is the school of Christ and it discloses the future glory of Christian disciples. For martyrs, the Cross of Christ became the most powerful instrument to win over the fear and pain. The Cross deepened their faith to witness their commitment to Christ and it crowned them with the glory of eternal life.
The Jewish authorities thought that Jesus secularized and scandalised the whole concept of the sacred. But the Cross became the divine indwelling! The Cross became the final glory of God and it blossomed with the flowers and fruits of eternity that crowned humanity with immortality. In the Cross of Christ a Christian finds a living history of a visible God who dispenses the power of eternal life. Cross stands against death and challenges every sinful structure.
The Cross has become Jesus himself, the power of God’s goodness and holiness! The Cross of Christ is an immortalizer! Being sanctified by the Cross of Christ we become strong in self sacrificing love which can sanctify our world. The Cross of Christ must illumine us to manifest the true face of God in our human context.
Love is stronger than hate, it has triumphed and we should affiliate ourselves with this victory of love. We should therefore start again from Christ and work together with him for a world founded on peace, justice and love.
The Good Friday is not only about remembering the events of Christ's suffering, but also about remembering the terrible facts and situations that afflict our brothers and sisters across the world. We know that hate, division and violence never have the last word in historical events. The people of Tibet and Iraq undergo the pain of Good Friday and longing for a day of resurrection which would transform all their tears and sufferings into true freedom and Joy. Let us pray
HOLY BLOOD OF JESUS PURIFY ME HOLY HANDS OF JESUS SANCTIFY ME HOLY CROWN OF JESUS TEACH ME HOLY CROSS OF JESUS SAVE ME HOLY WOUNDS OF JESUS STRENGTHEN ME HOLY DEATH OF JESUS REDEEM ME HOLY LOVE OF JESUS PARDON ME HOLY NAILS OF THE CROSS PERFECT ME HOLY WOOD OF THE CROSS GUIDE ME HOLY MOUNTAIN OF CALVARY INSPIRE ME