Good Friday, 2013
Christ sheds His blood for us that we might be redeemed and made sharers once again in the Life He shares with the Father. This life that Christ shares with us comes through His humility, His obedience, and His suffering. If we are to share fully in the life He offers, we too must be humble before God, obedient to Christ and His Church, and willing to embrace the suffering that life entails.
From the cross, Christ shares with us the fullness of His love. Let us not run from the love which He offers, which is a love that involves a full giving of one’s self.
As the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us today: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Who does not want a more abundant life today? Greater dignity for all people requires us to embrace the reality of human life. Life is cheap in our culture today. We do not acknowledge or respect its origins, namely that the Divine origin of life is God, who works through the human force of nature. The human source of life ultimately is woman, who through the natural means of love with a man conceives a child in her womb. Just as Jesus nourishes his life within us through shedding His blood on the cross, a woman nurtures the life of a child within her womb by sharing her blood with her child.
Yes, this life within the womb is human, is a child, and is nourished by the life- blood of the mother. For a woman to bring this life to birth, she requires humility, obedience to the laws of nature and to God, and the willingness to embrace the pain and suffering of child-birth. As Christ on the cross, through shedding his life-blood unites his Bride, the Church to Himself, so a husband and wife cling to each other in the same love of humility, obedience and self-sacrifice. For our world to know greater peace and harmony, we must regain a proper understanding and respect for the life of the unborn and the natural means of generating this life through the sacramental love of husband and wife.
Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) His blood cries out to us today for a deeper respect for human life. Who is not concerned in our culture today about the increase of violence? Who can remain unmoved by the massive numbers of innocent people oppressed and killed by dictators and terrorists? Whose hearts are not broken when the lives of innocent children and countless others are murdered in random shootings? What kind of culture, what kind of thinking creates such an environment if not a society that has lost sight of the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life?
The first reality of the cross that speaks to us is of suffering. Human life is full of pain and suffering, and much of life is spent trying to relieve or avoid it. Jesus is teaching us today in part that suffering cannot always be avoided. We cannot allow suffering to cause us to withdraw into the safe haven of self. We cannot allow the fear of suffering to keep us from continually giving ourselves in love to our neighbor.
Jesus also teaches us that suffering when associated with Him and His cross can lead to new and more abundant life. The difficulties of our life, down to the most seemingly insignificant detail can have salvific meaning and great power in the hands of God.
Jesus upon the cross teaches us that human relationships are not easy, yet He shows how embracing these difficulties and persevering through them leads to fullness of life. He loved those who crucified Him, and yet He prayed for their forgiveness.
How many in our world today are not willing to make simple sacrifices for those they claim to love? How many marriages today fail because of an unwillingness to embrace the sacrifices that are a part of love? How many couples today simply live together without the benefit of marriage because their own independence means more? How many children are born into the world today without a father to care for them because of such selfishness? In many ways, we are like those referred to by Isaiah: “we have gone astray…each following his own way.” Rather, we are called to live as St. Paul says: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others.” (Philippians 2:3)
Jesus was obedient to the Father, obedient to death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8) We are called to such obedience. Jesus’ obedience entailed suffering. It is no different for us. But the suffering entailed by obedience leads to endurance. (Romans 5:3) With growth in humility and obedience, we will be able to say with St. Paul: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Romans 8:18)
Let us not forget, Jesus’ death was for our sins. (1 John 4:10) Therefore, we too must die to sin if we are to live for Christ. As we venerate his cross today, let us humbly call to mind its purpose; our freedom from sin and our abundant life in Christ. This necessarily means that “we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:11)
Let us live humbly our faith. Let us live obediently our faith. Let us embrace the suffering life, love, and faith entails, that we may gain the fullness of life Christ has obtained for us by his holy cross.