Good Friday 2022

We call today Good Friday, but hearing the story of how Jesus is treated, of watching Him suffer on the cross, a death so brutal that Roman citizens could not be crucified, it almost seems ostentatious that we would even dare call today good. Yet today is good, because as Isaiah tells us in our first reading, “Jesus took away the sins of many and won pardon for their offenses.” Today is good because as St. Paul writes to the Hebrews in our second reading, we have a high priest who can sympathize with our weakness and has become the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. Today is truly good because today, “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”[1]

We should feel uncomfortable hearing the account of how an innocent man was put to death. But part of that uneasiness should also come from the that each and everyone of us realizes that we are guilty. Each and everyone of us is like Barabbas who is set free because Jesus, the innocent, takes our place.

My friends, while the cross is almost too painful to witness, today’s liturgy calls us to stand with the Blessed Mother, St. John and the women at the cross and acknowledge that the cross of Christ is not a theory, but a dreadful ordeal and a sign of love.”[2] In fact, the cross is the ultimate sign of God’s love for us. It puts into the practice of Jesus who teaches us that their is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And that is exactly what happens on Good Friday. After all, “God is a sufferer because he is a lover; the entire theme of the suffering God flows from that of the loving God and always points back to it.”[3] You see my friends, I believe, “if you really want to touch someone’s heart, then be prepared for a little bleeding along the way. Love is not something you have – love is something you use.”[4] Jesus shows exactly what that means by stretching His arms out on the cross. For today, we recall the great truth that God has loved us to the point of literally shedding His blood for us and all He asks is that we receive His love by picking up our cross daily and following Him. 

Our participation in this liturgy then reminds us that God does not stand far off. No God has paid the ultimate price for each and everyone of us; a price that seems too good to be true. A price that is almost scandalous. But God “does not love us because we deserve to be loved, but because we need to be loved.”[5] As we see Him hanging on the cross we see that he hangs at the intersection of two pieces of wood. A vertical piece that connects heaven to earth and a horizontal piece that reaches out to encompass the whole world. When we look at the cross, we have to ask ourselves do we have the humility to acknowledge that we need Jesus to bridge the gap between heaven and earth? Do we have the humility to acknowledge that we need Jesus to draw us all closer together? Do we have the humility to acknowledge that the cross 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?”[6]

S today we come then today to venerate our Lord’s cross recognizing it as the means of our salvation and we seek to unite ourselves to Him. The horizontal bar gathers us all together at on point, the point where the the vertical bar brings heaven and earth together. It is up to us to embrace the cross, by following Jesus to the cross and being willing to use the love that God has extend for us. The scriptures never tell us what happened to Barabbas, but I’d like to think he took his second chance and made something of his life. If you have ever experienced or had conversations with people who have had near death experiences, maybe it was an illness that they thought was going to take their life, maybe it was an accident or some other kind of tragedy where they should have ended up dead, they will tell you, time and time again that they are grateful the that second chance and that they want to make sure that their life is worthy of it. My friends, you and I are like Barabbas, Jesus has given us a second chance, it is up to us to determine what we are going to do with it. It is up to us today as we gather to approach this cross to recommit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life, to use our second chance to follow Jesus, through the cross to the glory of the resurrection. 

[1] Romans 5:8 

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

[3] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Behold The Pierced One. San Francisco: Ignatius. (1986). Pg 33

[4] Simcha Fischer. The Sinners Guide to Natural Family Planning. (Huffington: Our Sunday Visitor) 2014. Pg. 52.

[5] Patrick Ahern. Maurice and Therese the Story of a Love. Image Books: New York, 1998. Pg 139

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

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