Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

     Today, as we gather at the hour when our Savior gave up His spirit, we recall that “the cross of Christ is not a theory, but a dreadful ordeal and a sign of love.”[1] We come to pay the highest honor to our Lord’s cross recognizing it as the means of our salvation and uniting ourselves to Him on the cross. My friends, “the physical experience of the cross is a grace absolutely necessary for our growth in the Christian Faith and a providential opportunity to conform ourselves to Christ, so as to enter into the depths of the ineffable.”[2] For as Christians, we are called to take up our cross and follow Christ daily.[3]

     We have no other option but to take up our cross for, “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.”[4] There is no question; we will have to embrace the cross, but what will our attitude towards that cross be. The Gospel account of Jesus’ crucifixion, which we just heard, shows us that there are only 3 possible attitudes towards the cross, the attitudes of distain, 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,”[5] it can be easy for us to approach the cross with distain. How often do we want the creed without the cross? Don’t we at times cry out for the Lord to come down off the cross, ready to believe if it means we don’t have to embrace the cross? Can’t we be tempted at times to demand that Christ prove His divinity to us by showering us with worldly success rather than allowing ourselves to experience Christ’s divinity by following St. Paul’s exhortation to be crucified with Christ.[6] Yet the truth is “no one can have Jesus as his ‘rabbi’ without reference to the Cross.”[7]

     Like those who sat around the cross and cast lots for our Lord’s garment[8] there is often a temptation to be spectators of the cross rather than follow Christ to the cross. Sadly our lives can get so busy that we can so easily fail to put faith at the center of our lives. It can be so easy for faith to become some nice thought or a cultural tradition that we engage in every now and then, but fail to take it seriously.  Friends, 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 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 modeled 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’s suffering 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? Friends, “Calvary is the highest point in the world, from which we can see everything with new eyes, the eyes of faith, love and martyrdom, the eyes of Christ.”[9] We must glory in the cross[10] 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.

     As we stand here on Calvary, what is our attitude towards the cross? Do we battle through the uneasiness and remain standing at the cross, or do we look to take the easy way out by trying to avoid the cross or by regulating it to the sidelines of our life? Our Lord offers us His cross as the means of our salvation if only we are willing to unite ourselves to it. 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  most extreme suffering known to man so that we might reap the merits of His crucifixion.

[1] Robert Cardinal Sarah, God or Nothing, A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat.  San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2016. Pg 95.

[2] Robert Cardinal Sarah, God or Nothing, A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat.  San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2016. Pg 25.

[3] Lk 9:23

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

[5] Mk 15:32

[6] Gal 2:19

[7] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.  Pg 302.

[8] Mt 27:36

[9] Robert Cardinal Sarah, God or Nothing, A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Diat.  San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2016. pgs 25 – 26.

[10] Gal 2:20

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