THE SACRED PASCHAL TRIDUUM, FRIDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD
Reading 1: Is 52: 13-53 We hear Isaiah’s Suffering Servant song, which tells of a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers. He was silent and opened not his mouth. “The Lord has laid on him the guilt of us all.”
Reading 2: Heb 4: 14-16, 5: 7-9 Jesus is our supreme High Priest who knows our human condition and suffered death for our sake.
Passion Narrative: Jn 18:1 – 19:42 We hear the account of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
THE CROSS: A SYMBOL OF GOD’S LOVE
Good Friday is a day when we commemorate the historical event of the sacrifice of our Lord on the cross. This commemoration should lead us to a reflection on the meaning of the cross of Christ in our personal lives here and now. It is only then that Christ’s sacrifice will bear fruit in our present daily lives.
The cross is the symbol of a loving and sacrificial offering of self for others. It is only in the cross that we see the face of God. We look at the sun and see the energy of God. We look at the stars and see the infinity of God. We look at the atom and see the complexity of God. But it is only in the cross that we see the loving face of God. It is only in the cross that we truly understand the statement, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).
The cross is the symbol of the remission of our sins. Jesus took all our sin with him on the cross, thus conquering the devil’s power over humanity forever. Whenever we see the cross, we are reminded that “he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, and by his stripes we were healed.”
The cross is the symbol of humble self-emptying for others. It is the symbol of the suffering Christ leading us in our life’s journey of pain and suffering, encouraging, strengthening and supporting us. The cross is the symbol of the risen Christ who promises us a crown of glory as a reward for the patient bearing of our daily crosses.
The cross involves pain; truly carrying it implies enduring the pain without complaint, offering it to Jesus for others, and joining it to his sufferings. It can be the pain involved in the sacrifices we make when we share our blessings with others, when we bear with their shortcomings, offering them in return, loving service. It can be the pain involved in controlling our evil tendencies and dying to our worship of self, so that we can love God and neighbour better. It can be the pain involved in standing with Jesus and courageously upholding his gospel, even if it brings upon us scorn and humiliation from the rest of the world.
Crosses can come in many ways and forms. Some may be of Nature, e.g., diseases, disasters, death; others may be attached to our daily responsibilities. Then there are those crosses given by others and those we create for ourselves. We should carry our crosses, to benefit fully from the gracious gift of reconciliation that Jesus has won for us – reconciliation with God, with his Church and with his people. We are asked to not just look at the cross but to embrace it, identifying ourselves with Christ, crucified for us. Every time we sign ourselves with the cross in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we renew within our hearts the realization that the cross – and Christ’s love for us that it represents – is not something apart from us, outside of us and distinct from us.
Crosses and Suffering becomes easier, when we compare our crosses with those of others. Comparing our light crosses with the heavy crosses of terminally ill patients, patients in emergency wards; will help us draw strength and inspiration from Jesus walking ahead of us carrying his heavy cross and supporting us in carrying our crosses.
Today let us try to lay the foundation of our daily life on Christ crucified. Let us make a sincere profession of faith in the power of his cross every morning, asking him to keep us close to it throughout the day. And at night, let us commit ourselves to an honest examination of conscience, reviewing how far we have strayed from the foot of the cross that day. What is important is that each day we learn to be a little humbler, a little more loving, a little more sacrificing, for the sake of others, especially in those relationships of family, society and within the Church community that are tense and difficult. It is only the cross of Christ that can give us the strength to endure the things that we cannot change, and which seem never-ending. It is the cross of Christ that is our only hope.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 31: 2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25 Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
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