Good Friday Stations of the Cross Homily

     At this hour when Jesus was lead out to die we, as Catholics, gather to prayerfully journey with Him to the cross recalling His triumphant passion and death. Today’s ancient devotion of the Stations of the Cross finds us waiting at the foot of the cross, for Easter Sunday. Resting at the foot of the cross should be normal for us; after all it is the vocation of every Christian to live at the foot of the cross. We have no option, “everyone in the world is either on or underneath the Cross. No escape is possible. Some are on it through physical suffering or because they are identified with the suffering of others in Christ’s name sake … others are beneath it, demeaning His crucifixion, ridiculing sacrifice, or being indifferent enough to play games under its shadow.”[1] The question is not will we stand at the cross, but rather what is our attitude to the cross. Will we look at Christ on the cross from afar or will we follow after Him and join Him on the cross? The Gospel accounts of the crucifixion show us that there are only 3 possible attitudes towards the cross, the attitude of antipathy, apathy, or empathy.

Like those who stood at the foot of the cross and said “let the Messiah, the King of Israel come down from the cross that we may see and believe,”[2] many people in today’s society approach the cross with antipathy. Countless Christians in our world want the creed without the cross, they cry out for the Lord to come down off the cross, ready to believe the faith it if means they don’t have to embrace the cross. Sadly we see this attitude towards the cross in many people who have bought into the prosperity Gospel, the belief that worldly success is the ultimate will of God for Christians and so rather than looking for a proof or an explanation of the faith they refuse the command to be crucified with Christ.[3]

     Like those who sat around the cross and cast lots for our Lord’s garment[4] many people today want to be spectators to the cross rather than follow Him to the cross. Sadly many people are so wrapped up in our busy culture that they rarely, if ever, stop what they are doing to practice their faith. Faith for them, is a nice thought, or some kind of cultural tradition that they may engage every now and then, perhaps at Christmas and Easter, but fail to take seriously. My brothers and sisters, if we truly believe that God suffered His most painful passion, as a pure act of love, and rose from the dead to save us, our faith simply cannot be regulated to the sidelines our life. The attitude of those who cast lots for our Lord’s cloths is simply illogical, we cannot accept the truth of the crucifixion and not allow it to radically transform our lives.

     The only proper attitude towards the cross is one of empathy, the attitude of sharing the feelings of the other. This is the attitude we see expressed by the Blessed Virgin, the women of the cross and St. John, who through their prayerful witness at the foot of the cross united their own pains and sufferings to the suffering of Christ on the cross. There is no doubt these holy women were looked down upon for standing at the feet of our Savior on the cross, but they were willing to stand up for the Truth even in the face of controversy. Do we run to the cross, when the going gets tough or do we flee? We must glory in the cross[5] because when we unite our sufferings to the suffering of Christ on the cross we are blessed to participate in the crucifixion of Christ and can cooperate with His grace for our good and the good of all His holy Church.”[6]

     As we prepare to journey with Jesus towards the cross, what will our attitude towards the cross be? Will we battle through the uneasiness and remain standing at the cross, or will we look to take the easy way out by trying to avoid the cross, or regulating the cross to the sidelines of our life. Today our Lord holds out salvation for us to merit with His grace, will we run to the cross or run from it? My friends the cross is not a curse to run from, but a witness to hope. Let’s not forget it is our vocation to sit at the foot of the cross, uniting ourselves to Him who endured the suffering for us so that we reap the merits of His crucifixion.

[1] Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Those Mysterious Priests. New York: The Alba House, 2005. pg. 101

[2] Mk 15:32

[3] Gal 2:19

[4] Mt 27:36

[5] Gal 2:20

[6] Roman Missal

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