Sacred Heart Cathedral, Bendigo
April 19, 2019
2 Sam 7:4-16; Luke 2:41-51
Throughout Lent we hear these words as we pray the Way of the Cross: ‘We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world’. Today’s liturgy brings these words into sharp focus.
The liturgy of the Church on Good Friday has four parts. First we read the passion of Jesus in St John's Gospel. Next we intercede for the Church and the world. Then we venerate the Cross. Finally we receive Holy Communion.
On Good Friday we always read St John's account of the Passion. We do not read St Luke and hear about the repentant thief. We do not read St Matthew and hear about the death of Judas Iscariot. We do not read St Mark and hear about the young man running away from Gethsemane.
But we do hear that when Jesus is confronted by Judas and the soldiers at Gethsemane, he says 'I am he'. We do hear at the trial before Pilate that Jesus is indeed a king. We do hear of the soldier piercing Jesus's side with a spear, and that blood and water pour out.
For St John, the cross is not so much the degradation of Christ but rather a stage in his victorious return to his Father. He is returning triumphant. And his supreme power is recognised as universal king, crowned with thorns, and proclaimed to the whole world ‘Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.’
That is why we call today Good Friday. Today the God of all creation tells us that those who do care for the poor, those who take a stand against injustice, those who seek to bring peace and yet suffer; those are ones whose lives are acceptable to God.
In the Good Friday liturgy, after we have prayed to God for our broken world, the cross is to be brought in and unveiled. As we come to kiss or reverence the cross our personal love of Jesus may be renewed and deepened. Jesus is seen reigning from the cross and can be acknowledged now as the saviour, who by his cross has redeemed the world.
Our response to listening once again this Good Friday to the story of divine mercy, the story of Jesus's passion and death, should be to confirm and deepen our choice of truth, of love, of beauty, of justice.
This we do in three ways today: Firstly, we pray solemnly for the world and all its many needs, and for those who govern us that they may rule well; we pray for the Church, for the Pope and our bishop that they may lead us well in our choice of truth; we pray especially for those being baptized this Eastertide, making this choice of truth and salvation publicly now for the first time.
Secondly, we venerate a cross which symbolized how Jesus suffered and died for us. Our suffering and our pain are bound up in the whole divine drama of the salvation of the world.
Thirdly, we receive the Body of Jesus, broken for us and our salvation as Holy Communion, and so once again are mystically united not only with Jesus's suffering and death, but also his promise of resurrection and new life. We receive God's strength to carry on living in hope.
A final thought is one for us to take away. It comes from the Gospel of St John, as we have just heard. From the cross, Jesus spoke to Mary, His Mother and to John, His beloved disciple. 'This is your son.' 'This is your mother', He said. And then we heard, 'And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.'
Let us make a place for them in our hearts and in our homes. Let us resolve, today, that in our homes there is a place for Jesus and Mary, for we are His beloved disciples today. Please, look around your homes and make sure that there is some sign that both Jesus and Mary have a place there: a crucifix, a statue, a focus and a reminder of the love they have for you every day and of the love you show for them today by your attendance here at this wonderful Liturgy.
Let us be confident in Him who walks with us and who never ceases to intercede for us, that we shall have mercy and find grace when we are in need. ‘We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world’.