Homily, Good Friday, 2010
St. Mary Cathedral, Cheyenne
The tabernacles throughout the world today are empty. Not a sacrament is celebrated in the Church, because the Savior of the world lies in death. This reality alone gives stark relief to the tremendous significance of what we celebrate today.
Imagine if this “absence of Jesus” or this “separation from God” were the reality of each and every day of our life. Imagine no longer having access to God, due to the burden, the division created by our sins. Imagine the great despair of the human state no longer able to reach our full potential of love, because we cannot find sufficient healing from the damage created by our own failures to love. Our failure to love our neighbor, our failure to love God, our failure to love our very self in the face of our human frailty and incompleteness due to this separation from the God who loves us. These are the realities of sin, separation from one another; separation from God; even the reality of division within our own person. Imagine this as the permanent state of the human condition!
Thanks be to God this is not the reality! Thanks be to God for our Savior, Jesus Christ! Thanks be to God for the cross, the tree of life, from which flows the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ; from which flows the healing waters of baptism and the redeeming blood of our Savior.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-7)
Last night, we saw Jesus in prayer in the garden of Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Imagine the love of God that will not spare His own Son, in order to free us from this tremendous burden of sin. Imagine this Love of Jesus that lays down His life in obedience to the Father’s will. This prayer, this saving action of Jesus is not a prayer or action of blind obedience. It is a prayer and act of love; Love for the Father, Love for the world, Love for all peoples of all time. This is the perfect, sacrificial, saving, eternal Love of Jesus that we recall today.
My dear people, our God is not absent. What we remember today is the three days our Savior lay in a tomb. What we recall today is that Jesus laid down His life of His own free will, only to take it up again. This life was not taken from Jesus, but was freely given. (John 10:17-18) Jesus is the author of life; (Colossians 1:16) He is the One through Whom all life is created, and the One through Whom life is redeemed and made new. It is this redemption and renewal of life through the Love of God in the person of Jesus Christ we recall today. It is the stark reality of the cross which we recall today. It is with faith that we gaze upon this cross today, not just as an instrument of death, but mostly as the tool of redeeming love. We give thanks today for the mysterious, loving ways of God. I wish to close my remarks today with a favorite prayer of mine from St. Ignatius of Loyola which seems to capture the dramatic gift of this day:
Jesus, may all that is you – flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and my drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and my life.
With you by my side, enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow of your cross.
Lord, let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.
And on each of my dyings, shed your light and your love.
Keep calling me, Lord, until the day that with your saints,
I may praise you – forever and ever.