For us who have come here on this Good Friday at St. Columba and in thousands of Catholic churches all over the world, we have come because deep in our hearts, we want to be reminded again about the profound mystery of our redemption for which we hunger.
We want to view with the eyes of our minds and of our hearts the scenes of our Lord’s suffering as we follow Him on His painful way to Mount Calvary where He would be crucified and offer His life for us.
I think that we have come also to linger at the foot of the cross to venerate it and to contemplate once again what it all means and holds for us today.
Who is this man Jesus that we think we know? Who is this man whose death long ago we remember today and hold dear in our hearts?
For 700 years before the Savior’s coming, the prophet Isaiah already foretold and described Him as the Suffering Servant which we heard about in our first reading.
Many movies have been made about the passion of the Lord, but the most recent one most of you probably have seen (the Passion of the Christ) portrays Him with so much blood, so much gore, so much violence, on the receiving end of much mockery and hatred, showing Jesus with a mangled body that many people think was not exactly what happened.
But that is precisely what the prophet describes, thus:
“. . . so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man—
There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
like a lamb led to the slaughter.
But for what, or for whom did the Suffering Servant do this? The prophet also answers this question thus:
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.
”by his stripes we were healed.
In our second reading Paul also answers this question and says of Jesus:
“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Our Savior came at a time when the world was in darkness, when the world was a dangerous and wild place, where man worshiped idols, in the form worship of self and selfish pleasure, idols of power and greed and of man’s injustice towards one another.
Christ came as Light to the world. But unfortunately, even after 2000 years, His light has not fully penetrated the darkness in many parts, in many souls. This world has become even more wild and dangerous as you and I can see and hear from the news, through the newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet.
It is clear that the world has lost the sense of sin even more. Current culture considers no longer wrong or sinful, but even absolute right, acts and behavior that are contrary to the law that God, in His infinite wisdom, put in our human hearts. We live in a culture where suffering must be avoided at all costs and pleasure pursued at the expense of our dignity as children of God.
The Body of Christ continues to suffer to this day, with all the secularism and materialism that still scourges the Body of Christ, which is the Church.
And today, Christ sends us a reminder to revisit where our own individual lives have been going and where we should be headed.
As we commemorate the first Good Friday, the challenge to us is to always remember that our redemption was won, not with gold and silver, but with the precious blood of God’s only Son.
And so, it is only right and fitting that we love Jesus back. Let us love Him because He loved us first. For when he stretched out his arms on the cross, we were there, each one of us, our names on his lips. And when he was raised up between heaven and earth, broken and bleeding, we were there, in His Sacred Heart.
Let us love Jesus with all our hearts. Let us love Him through our actions, through our lives. Let us love Him by reflecting the light of Jesus to others and thus help bring others back home to the Father.
Let us stand up for Him wherever we are, wherever we move -- within our families, in our workplaces, our recreation places, in the public square, and in this society that has turned hostile to His values.
As we venerate with much love the cross on which God the Son died for us, let us not take it as mere sentimentality that will last only this Holy Week.
Our redemption has been won at a high price, but the saving act of Christ continues today in the Eucharist, which is a presenting again of His sacrifice and where He gives us, again and again, the Bread of Life, His own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, another proof of God’s everlasting love for us.
And let us keep in mind His promise:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”(John 14:23)#