Browsing Homilies

Friday of the Passion of Our Lord (Good Friday)

Is 52:13-53:12 | Ps 31 | Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9 | Jn 18:1-19:42

On this day, tears are sacred. Weeping heals as we surrender. Lament is holy within this liturgy.

In our worship across the globe, Christians reverence the wood of the cross. This gesture is far from empty. Today, we use our bodies to express our hearts. We kiss, genuflect, bow, and bend. We approach in wheelchairs, with walkers, or on canes – bodies that ache after the burden of years, or from physical, chronic, mental, or emotional pain.

We approach the cross not only for our own lives but also for the lives of those we love. We kneel before the cross because we can’t solve the mystery of the long-term effects of the pandemic. We bring the bruises of our tender and broken hearts because someone we love lost their life long before their time; because we feel powerless over a severe addiction, or that of a loved one.

We weep at the cross because of broken relationships and divorce. We ache for God to heal a sibling’s lifelong depression, and the emotional scars left by the abuse a loved one experienced from a former spouse. We collectively cry out for God to heal people abused by the Church, lamenting false power and corruption.

We go to the cross not only as individuals but as a Church, a community of believers. We go to the cross on behalf of people collapsing in the streets because of shootings, violence, and war. We ache for people stopped at the border of nations.

We fall on our knees at the holy wood because we are at a loss as to how we can solve political and theological divisions among us. We befriend the cross because we get so tired of carrying the known and unknown pain of other people. Only Jesus, the one of whom we ask, “Who is this?” redeems suffering and heals pain.

Today, a dim hush overwhelms us in our churches. The simplified sanctuaries remind us of what is most important. The near quiet of today’s ritual is spellbinding because we understand we cannot control life. We cannot solve the unfortunate issues of life by ourselves. We need God. Today, in our simple gestures, we feel the gospel in our bones and ache for the beauty of redemption.

The liturgy of Good Friday evokes much emotion within God’s people. We use our bodies to kneel, to stand, to kiss, to cry. We leave the liturgy in silence, and remain without a final blessing from the priest until tomorrow night. We celebrate the death of Jesus only because the story of his rising from the tomb is already revealed. Love, mercy, and redemption are near at hand. We depart this afternoon, worn out, but full of hope, for Easter will come from the very life of the One of whom we ask, “Who is this?”


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