John 1:14

March 27th Homily for Good Friday

Filed under: Blog — admin at 10:17 pm on Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good Friday 2013

One of the most basic questions that Christians ask is: why did Jesus choose to die for us? Isaiah foretells the reason in his Fourth suffering Servant Song. He says that:  “We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way.”  God had set us on a wonderful path to life with him, but we thought we could find a better way. After the Fall of our first parents, God reminds us through the prophets, that life has many blessings and much beauty, but it is also treacherous and full of traps. Don’t think you can do all this by yourself. You will fall into a hole that you cannot escape.

We left the light of God’s grace and instead chose the darkness of sin. We lost our union with God and our bond to one another. We go our own ways and do our own things and believe what we want to believe. Many of us don’t know what to believe today, and so we believe the one that shouts the loudest or looks the most attractive. We have lost ourselves.

Earlier in John’s Gospel, chapter 10, Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd, he will gather the sheep who will hear his voice and ultimately he will give his life for the sheep, so that we will know there is only one loving  Shepherd, Jesus Christ. We are part of his flock because he has chosen us through the gift of faith. How is Jesus going to draw us back, by lecturing us, by threatening us, by indulging us? No. He will bring us together by loving us. He is going to give us a definition of love that he will place within our heart.

Some people today find it impossible to accept when we speak of the death of Jesus on the Cross as a sign of God’s love. They argue that it is the sign of an angry and vengeful God, who seeks to be appeased for the sins of the human race. What these people forget is that God the Father did not ask for the death of Jesus. The Father asked the Son to make known and make effective his love for the human race. WE ASKED FOR THE DEATH of JESUS. Pontius Pilate was willing to let him off with a beating, but that was not enough for us. We did not see the effects of our sins. We did not notice that we in fact changed the meaning of love and in doing so sentenced Jesus to death.

For many people today, love means getting what we want when we want it. It is about creating our own little world where we make the rules. That is more lust that love and its roots are raw desire. This is not how God loves. If anyone should know the meaning of love, it is God, who is indeed love. God taught us at our creation us that he loves by giving who He is to us that we might find fulfillment. He shows us a love that knows no end. It is love that is perfect, intimate and complete. It is a love can never be conquered or destroyed or removed. It is a love that ultimately unites.         The 15th century Franciscan poet Jacopone da Todi wrote that “Love has been nailed to the cross and he will not come down.” In Jesus Christ, God has shown us the lengths to which he will go to bring us back. Jesus spared nothing in loving us so that our sins could be forgiven and death would bring our everlasting life.

How can we respond to this offering of Jesus for us? How do we respond to his simple words that flowed like blood and water from his pierced side “I love you?” Some have ignored it. Some may be so bold to think they deserved it. But today, our response is simple- Love Him back. Love him back by making the divine definition of love our own. Give, forgive, serve, listen, obey, give thanks. All these things are made possible for us today because the Shepherd gives his life for us.

When he gives up his Spirit, His Work is finished, but ours is only beginning. If we accept the gift, then we can no longer go our own way. We choose to walk the way of Jesus. We choose to take up our cross every day by loving, which means giving ourselves for the well-being and holiness of others and the glory of God. This is way that is marked by tears, sweat and hard work. We often will not see the fruits of our actions, which may go unnoticed or ridiculed. But we are in good company. Jesus experienced the same thing.

One the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, there is a great hymn, Vexilla Regis prodeunt. There goes forward the standard of the king. Our standard is the cross. We are no longer scattered sheep, but one flock. We no longer go our own way, we walk the same dusty path as the Church. As venerate the cross on which hung the Savior of the world, may our hearts be humbled, but our determination renewed. The Way of Jesus is the Way of the Cross. The way of the Cross is the True path of life which opens up heaven for us poor sinners.

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