BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE



“For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” This beautiful prayer from the chaplet of the divine mercy prayer gives us a clue of today’s liturgy. In the Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ lies hidden the fullness of God’s blessings and in the resurrection these blessing are confirmed and conferred to us. May our celebration of the Lord’s Passion prepare us also for the celebration of His glory at the resurrection morning; Amen.

The Liturgy of Good Friday is very much unique in every sense of the word, starting from the Stations of the Cross, in many parts of the world dramatized, to the celebration of the Lord’s Passion in the evening. One of the striking things that we must note about today is that the Sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist (i.e. the Mass) is not celebrated up till the Vigil Mass of Easter on Saturday evening. This is so because “the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different. And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner. This sacrifice is truly propitiatory” (CCC, n. 1367). Since the Mass and the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross are one single sacrifice, it would be tautological to celebrate the Eucharist on the day in which the Church re-enact in an actual sense the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Holy Communion, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the fruit of the Lord’s Sacrifice on the Cross and which daily comes to us by the Celebration of the Eucharist, is distributed to the faithful from what was reserved from the Mass of the previous day.

The readings of today’s liturgy point our attention to the actual event being re-enacted. The First Reading (Is 52:13-53:12) presents to us one of the suffering servant’s songs in the prophecy of Isaiah which many years before Christ spoke of His passion and death and of the expiatory value of His sacrifice for many for “by His sufferings shall my servant justify many.” In the passion and death of Christ, He exercised His unique Priesthood in which Himself is the Victim, Offerer and the Altar of sacrifice and through this one sacrifice of the Cross offered once and for all, “He became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb 4:14-16, 5:7-9). In the Passion Narrative according to John (18:1-19:42), we are presented with the actual event of how it all happened.

Encountering many moments and persons in the Passion Narrative, I would want us to take for our reflection the three persons, namely; “the maid on duty at the door, someone unidentified nor qualified and one of the High Priest’s servants, a relation of the man whose ear Peter had cut off” who reminded Peter of His identity; “aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?” This experience of Peter happens to us often and on. There are people on our journey whose mission is to remind us of who we are, of our identity and of our mission. What is our response in such moments? Each of these moments is a gift from the Lord for our self re-examination and for evaluation of our faithfulness to our responsibilities. When we deny our identity, we lose touch with the responsibilities latent therein. This was the fate of Peter! At the moment of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, Peter’s confirmation of his identity as a follower of Christ would have been the most concrete way for him to participate in the Passion of his Master. But in all of the three opportunities, Peter denied “I am not!” He needed the crow of a cock to remind him that he had lost all of the three opportunities. Our identity as Christians connects us to the Passion of Christ. In the Passion of Christ are hidden heavenly treasures and blessings. The resurrection is a confirmation of these treasures and blessings in our lives. Truly, the Passion and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ are two sides of the same coin. To have one is to possess the other. To speak of the passion without the resurrection is pessimism and to speak only of the resurrection without the passion is epicurean.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of Mercy for us, we trust in You! May you richly benefit from this ocean of grace; Amen. Wishing you all the best of the Good Friday celebrations;

Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE




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