John 1:14

Good Friday homily 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin at 3:59 pm on Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday 2014

When we teach people the meanings of words, we hold up an object, and we say the word. So if we hold up a round red rubber object, we say the word “ball” and the person we are speaking to connects the object with the word. It is not too hard to teach people about things that are concrete such as ball or chair or tree, but what about words that are a little more abstract, like love, for instance.

Some people may put the hands to their heart and say “love,” others may show a picture of a heart and say love. Others may show a picture of two people kissing or holding hands and say “love.” Each of these images gives us an idea, love is a place in our body, love is a thing shaped like a heart, or love is two or more connected to each other.

We gather today to profess that none of those images really hold up to the test of truth. We know that the true reality of love is shown to us today in the way that the world says is a sign of contradiction. Today the Church gives us the real image of love, namely Jesus Christ crucified. If we want to teach the word the meaning of love, we must lift high the crucifix. Jesus says earlier in John’s Gospel, “when the son of man is lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” This mystery of the death of Jesus, innocent and sinless, for all of us, guilty and sinful, makes no sense in a world that is focused on taking and possessing, acquiring and hoarding.

From the very moment he was conceived in the womb of the woman who stood at the Foot of his Cross, Jesus teaches us that true love consists in giving and surrendering, first to God the Father, and then to all others. This is his lesson today. Jesus gives us the truest and surest way to remain sane in an insane world, take up our cross every day and follow him. The sanity of the cross teaches us that love involves giving, even when we have little. The sanity of the cross teaches us that loves involves obedience, even if we don’t see the outcome. The sanity of the cross teaches us that love involves suffering, even though it hurts. There is no other way to really love in the world.

Some people say that love means satisfying our needs, but they are never really satisfied. Others say that loves means setting limits and that it is earned, but that is a form of self-preservation. Finally others may preach that love always makes you happy, but we know that love can break our heart.

People need to see the cross to really begin to learn the meaning of love. As I have said many times, there are two different definitions. The cultural definition of love is to get from another what we want. Christ’s bodily definition of love is to give away fully all that he is. Nothing is left, all is spent, in the end, the blood and water that flowed from his pierced side has shown he has given all bodily.

Today, we believe that Jesus Christ is still pouring out his love for us poor sinners, because as the God man his suffering continues in those who profess faith in him. He suffers in them, through them and with him.

There are some among us who venerate the cross every day, not just Good Friday. When children sacrifice their personal freedom to carry for their aging parents, they kiss the cross. When dads and moms work two or three jobs to keep a roof over their children’s heads, they kiss the cross. When parents live their lives every day holding in their heart their children who died, they kiss the cross. When we visit the sick, care for the poor, spend time with the lonely, we kiss the cross.

We are living in a world that has been crucified by injustice, selfishness, immorality and a perverse idea of freedom. We exalt false loves over the true suffering and self-surrendering love of Jesus Christ. Many people are on that cross today because of despair, unhealed wounds, or an empty heart. The news to the whole world today, if it would only really listen to it, is that the answer to our sorrows and loses, our tragedies and our tears is Jesus Christ crucified. This cross, as St. Catherine of Siena writes, is the true bridge to the joy of heaven, and the peace that will give us the thrill of God’s joy on earth.

The Church,  as soon to be Saint Pope John XXIII, is our mother and teacher. She wishes to teach us the truth of life and the truth of the world. Today, she lifts high the Body of Christ nailed to the cross for our salvation and says, “This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Savior of the world. This is true love. This is our only hope. This is the Son giving up his Spirit in love to God the Father for the salvation of the human race and the whole world.” Come let us worship. Come let us live. Come, let us love.



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