Good Friday always invites us to a deeper faith in Jesus our Paschal Victim. It is a day of faith, hope, and love because Jesus is our savior, our model and guide to the fullness of life through his cross.
We are called to embrace our particular cross, whatever that may be, as the process to total surrender to God. The Hebrews reading this afternoon tells us that the suffering of Christ perfected him. It will do that for us as well.
So Good Friday truly invites us to a deeper love of Jesus who willingly has given everything up for you and me. He even had to accept his disciple’s betrayal, running away at his very hour, the culmination of his ministry, of his incarnate life. Just as he is pouring out this life blood for them and for all.
As one writer put it, Jesus is the victim of fickle and fraudulent believers afraid to be known. We can be that way at times. Can we be inspired on this Good Friday never to shrink from the challenge of being his disciples. Yet Jesus continues to give himself to us. Do we have faith in Him? This is our story on Good Friday. To have love and faith enough to stay with him when life in Jesus feels too hard, too complicated, too demanding to love like him.
If we can’t, then we become victims not of salvation’s need of self-sacrifice, but of our own unfaithfulness, our own lack of discipline and commitment. Our attachment to self gets in the way of fidelity to Jesus and his cross. We are victimized by our sins. Our disobedience that terrorizes us. So, we escape deeper into despair and the self. We can see all this happening in our world right now. A world without a savior, we need Jesus, we need this Good Friday – to shake us to recognize again, our need to be redeemed, to be saved from ourselves.
The remedy is to stay fixed on our crucified Christ, His valiant fidelity of embracing the cross is the only inspiration that will pull us out of our sadness and dread that we are weak and sinful and we have betrayed Christ Jesus in our brothers and sisters. We can be duped by our petty behaviors and our sloppy reasoning and selfishness.
Jesus’ love changes suffering into self- sacrifice. Into purpose and meaning. Our intention is to be like Him, to be an offering for the world, to show the way forward. So, we enter into this sacrifice, because it is for us that Jesus offers himself to the father in love. As that perfect sacrifice of praise and worship of the Father, Jesus is the expiation of all sin. We now live in forgiveness, a new freedom, a new exodus has happened for all humankind. Indeed, for all of creation.
With our Crucified Christ, we come to hope in the new life he brings us. Our model of selfless love in every circumstance. We are confronted with the cross and we choose the cross over and over as the spiritual journey we must make to be one with him.
On my first pilgrimage to Jerusalem, we took turns carrying the cross through the narrow alleys of the Old City as we prayed the Stations. You get the feeling of that moment for Jesus, crowds shopping, all going about their business yet thinking what was that experience for Jesus already beaten and bloody – no wonder he needed Simon of Cyrene to help him through it. It really beings you to an awesome moment. Jesus did this for me. He IS crucified love, He IS the heart of the world.
We honor and adore the one who saves us, who is willing to be the Paschal Victim. So, we honor the cross, the cross of our salvation. What meaning it has now. And we pray with a clear intention, that our God offers us this acceptable time to renew our life with Jesus.
As Jesus, our Paschal Victim, is on the cross, we are brought to incredible faith in him who gives his life to us and for us. His faith and trust in the Father transform suffering by self-sacrificing love that redeems us and we grow in love of Christ as we encounter Christ in his Passion and death and we come to a renewed hope in our new life by his redemptive love and suffering. He alone is the source of our eternal salvation.