Good Friday Homily of 19th April 2019
Isaiah 52: 13- 53: 12 . Hebrews 4: 14-16, 5: 7-9 . John 18: 1 – 19: 42
On Good Friday we enter, deeply into the Passion of Christ. Into the Hour of Christ, the climax of his ministry and the revelation his true identity. I see this journey of Christ from Holy Thursday evening to Good Friday a true sign of his love and it is a love cry of grief. What grieving for the world Christ suffers? This grief is the deep and poignant distress of God grieving for the rejection by humanity of God’s love for us. We can feel the pain of this grief – Jesus takes on, all the pain that sin is. God wants us to know his love, so the Son is given the task to love us with such selfless love, God’s love and does so even with such grief, such pain.
The Passion is not something that Happens to Jesus. The passion is his destiny that Jesus embraces, Jesus moves it along. He drives this drama forward by his willingness at each turn and finally on the cross declares his mission finished.
We see that during the passion and on the cross Christ’s experience was basically alone. The apostle all fled, afraid, only the women and his mother along with John were under the cross.
The human experience is ultimately one of aloneness if without God. God transforms it all with love.
I remember my mother’s grief at my father’s death in 1997. I witnessed utter distress. In a moment her life changed so drastically. Her husband of 53 years was gone, what was she to do? As my mother said to us a couple of days later, he did everything for me. What grief there was and nothing we could do but be with her. And reassure her we would be there for her. Of course, our challenge is to live in God’s love, to feel God’s presence. To be present to God and others.
So we see that Christ is so emptied, so fragile because of this grief, this sorrow that God’s love is so rejected, that humanity’s hardness of heart could be so deep, Christ feels the rejection, the pain of loss. Jesus says, “I Thirst”, that thirst for Love, for those who truly seek God. Jesus experiences the human condition of this aloneness. And he feels the human pain of this suffering of the crucifixion. And the distress of humankind’s rejection of God. Christ carries this pain himself and transforms it by his love. The total self-less love for the Father for us, by Jesus the God man, the model of true humanity, is now redemptive for us all.
Grieving purifies us, brings us to see life differently. To accept life on a deeper level. We have to respond to death, to rejection, to hardships, to sin, to all the injustice of the world. To the indifference toward God and God’s desire for life with us. It’s like carrying the cross in our time, we must identify with the poor, the discriminated, migrants seeking asylum, with all those not honored with dignity as persons. We must be Christ in the world. Transforming it by our willingness to suffer, to do what it takes to bring the Kingdom to fulfillment, to make God’s love be known.
The cross, and the very action of crucifixion was a sign of the social control Romans had over the population, now in Christ the cross, that sign of total self-giving, becomes the very sign of true freedom. Real freedom from sin and death, and all that goes with it. So, we are confronted with evil, and the greatest evil against one another, is that which kills the Spirit.
We can see a sense of this in the interchange between Pilate and Jesus, “What is truth”, Pilate asks. Jesus is truth, it is embodied in Him. He is our truth. And in every way for us. Jesus goes to his death fully aware of who he is and what he is about. Are we?
In a world struggling to find truth and the meaning of truth, we must make a difference as those who believe in Christ, Jesus on the cross declared, “It is finished”. He completed his Hour. The total revelation of who he was. What confidence, what faith in the Father’s love. We too must be a catalyst of change, of transformation, just like Jesus was for the world and open up the truth of Gods’ love for all and what that means for us by living with such faith, such confidence in God and letting go of ourselves like Christ.
The embrace of our own Cross brings us to this purification. To enter into the deeper meaning of life. This letting go of ourselves, letting go of all that gets in the way of new life in the situations of our world, and in our own lives.
Good Friday is the day we recognize all that Jesus did for us and now it’s our turn to live out what his passion and death accomplished. To live freed up from the hurt and pain of our lives, the sadness that is part of the human condition, all the things that keep us from living joyfully in God’s love. Jesus restored us to true life in God and to a life lived for others.
This Friday is Good, Jesus has given his life for us.