“Good” Friday. It makes no human sense to call this day, “good.” On the surface, nothing — absolutely nothing is good about “this” Friday.
Only Divine wisdom, Divine logic enables us to make sense of calling this day, “good.”
For what is good about “a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one from whom people hide their faces, spurned and held in no esteem?”
Who would call one “good” who is pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon whom was the chastisement that makes us whole; by whose stripes we are healed?”
How can one be called “good” who was harshly treated; oppressed and condemned, cut off from the land of the living and given a grave among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers?”
How can we call this Friday “good?” Only because of Divine wisdom.
“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.”
How can we call this Friday “good?” How can one be called “good” who was scourged; whose flesh was brutally torn by instruments designed to inflict the utmost pain; upon whose head was a crown of thorns that mercilessly dripped blood and brought excruciating pain; whose followers had cried out only a few days earlier, “Blessed is he,” now shout, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him! Crucify him!”
How can we call this Friday “good?” Because Divine wisdom cries out, “I thirst.”
Jesus, thirsts not just for water but for our souls, for you and I, for every person ever conceived in the womb and ever will be, for all eternity.
How can we call this Friday “good?” Because Divine wisdom spoke, “It is finished.”
Jesus, “the one who was tested in every way, yet without sin,” fulfilled, absolutely brought to completion that which was prefigured and promised from the beginning.
This day is like no other. (Camera on the covered crucifix)
All we see is the outline of the crucifixion. We do not see the body of Jesus, but only the wood, the very ends of the cross beam.
In a few moments, we will bring into our midst the wood of the cross, the naked, bare wood. Deacon Rob will intone, “Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the salvation of the world.” We will respond, “Come, let us adore.”
The cross in all its cruelty we will ADORE because it is the definitive and irreversible “NO” of God to violence, injustice, hate, lies, to all that we call “sin and evil,” and at the same time God’s irreversible “YES” to love, truth, goodness and beauty. “No” to sin, “yes” to the sinner.
As Fr. Cantalamessa, the preacher to the papal household since 1980 preached last Good Friday:
“The cruelty of the cross gives meaning to all the suffering that has been, that is and that will be in human history. The cross is the living proclamation that the final victory does not belong to the one who triumphs over others but to the one who triumphs over self; not to the one who causes suffering, but to the one who is suffering.”
The cross, the only hope of the world.
The cross, the altar of sacrifice on which hung the salvation of the world.
(Camera focus on the Mensa, the altar.)
“Do this in memory of me,” the one commandment, as Fr. Lou said last night that is most often broken and neglected and disregarded.
The altar of sacrifice, of love poured out absolutely and totally, upon which we offer the Eucharist, the great act of Thanksgiving, is marked with the wounds of Jesus — etched and burnt.
The wounds of Christ who bore our wounds, our sufferings, our brokenness our sins, and all of humanity’s brutal cruelty throughout the ages.
The wounds of Christ.
“He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins … The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.… (Camera on the Lamb)
“Like a lamb led to the slaughter, he was silent and opened not his mouth.”
“Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”
What is “good” has nothing to do with us but all to do with God. Good Friday is God’s total, absolute and irrevocable gift to us. It is God’s merciful answer to our human misery. It is God’s solidarity in the flesh with our suffering humanity.
(One camera focus back on the altar, focusing on the center cross. One camera ready to focus on the Sacred Heart of Jesus.)
“Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’” (Trace center cross with my hand.)
Jesus’ thirst is not for water but for souls. From his pierced heart flowed blood, life-giving blood and life-giving, cleansing water. His Sacred Heart thirsted for our hearts. (Camera on the Sacred Heart)
Jesus’ body, bloody and brutally beaten hung naked on the cross, the tree of his death yet, the tree of our eternal life. His heart, pierced for love of us, beating forever with love for us, is now naked for us to touch so as to experience his love anew this night.
(Focus again on the Lamb)
As the author to the Hebrews writes, “Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
(Camera back on cross)
As you come to the cross this night, the throne of grace, share your sufferings, your burdens, and your thirsts with those of Jesus.
Come with all your pain, all your sorrows, all your grief, all your sadness, all your problems and all your heartaches and unite them with Jesus at the foot of his cross.
Let him speak to your heart, “It is finished.”
I close with these words from a writing contest won by a high school boy in Ireland to answer this question in 30 words or less:
What does Jesus say to his Father after the Resurrection when he returns to heaven?
“It’s good to see you Father.”
“How was it?”
“It was hard.
Hard as nails.
Hard as wood.”
“What was most difficult?”
“Come into my embrace.”