HOMILY FOR GOOD FRIDAY OF THE LORD’S PASSION
HOMILY THEME: THE PASSION AND DEATH OF CHRIST
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: What a gory scene it must have been, bearing the deepest of pains and walking through the path of condemnation and torture, though He was absolutely innocent and beyond reproach. The Passion of Christ brings us to see the cost of our redemption and the value God has reposed on us. It was not a futile adventure. It was a journey to gain for humanity what she cannot acquire for herself. On the damaged and disfigured body and face of the Lord we see the greatest gift of all times; the gift of salvation, the gift of love and the gift of reconciliation. Lord Jesus Christ, may we receive the full merits of your Passion and death; Amen.
The Liturgy of Good Friday situates us to celebrate the climax of the great tension that accumulated towards the last days of the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ; namely, His Suffering and Death. Today, the Church relives the very day when Christ offered the one true Sacrifice on the Cross for the redemption of mankind; the one Sacrifice that restored our lost dignity and fetched us the possibility of becoming adopted sons and daughters of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Today, Christ offered Himself, giving up His life to set us free and to reconcile us with our Creator. Ordinarily, the Mass is not celebrated today because the Sacrifice on the Cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass are one and the same thing. The difference is that on the Cross, there was true shedding of blood in physical terms, whereas on the Eucharistic Altar the mystery of Transubstantiation occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the ministry of priests. However, Communion is served from what was consecrated the previous day. The concentration of the Good Friday Liturgy is on the passion and death of Christ. It is a moment that was predicted from of old as we see in the First Reading of today’s celebration (Is 52:13-53:12); “as the crowds were appalled on seeing him, so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human, so will the crowds be astonished at him and kings stand speechless before him; for they shall see something never told and witness something never heard before.” In His Passion and Death, Christ was exercising His Priesthood, offering the One Sacrifice for the Salvation of the world. In His Passion and Death, He revealed further still His identity as the One and Only Mediator between God and humanity, such that, “having been made perfect, He became for all who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9).
The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ were a proceeding that gradually culminated to the very point when He breathed His last breathe with His last words “It is accomplished.” This we read in the Passion Narrative of today’s Liturgy (John 18:1-19:42). In the Passion Narrative, we encounter many characters and scenes. It is impossible not to locate ourselves and see the depth and level of our relationship with God in the characters within these scenes. It is evident how the tension between Jesus and the Scribes, the Pharisees and some leaders of the people led them to look for ways to eliminate him. This they achieved today, but unfortunately, not for the purpose they had in mind. He rather gave in to death to save humanity from doom for “it is better for one man to die for the people.” Their main problem was the fear that Jesus’s ministry was gradually rendering them obsolete and irrelevant. Their prerogative to protect that ill-conceived relevance was at the background of the unfolding of the plot of the Passion Narrative up to the Cross. There is often the tendency in some men and women to think that the success of another person spells doom for them. This is certainly a gross misconception of how God works and the fact that God is the Master of boundless and infinite possibilities. He knows how to settle and saddle all of His children. Nobody is irrelevant, but also nobody is indispensable in all of the spheres of life. All those who sought to eliminate Jesus never understood this divine arithmetic and this was the backdrop of their evil intention. The sky is always large enough for the twinkling of all the stars and also the world is a stage large enough for the manifestation of our individual uniqueness, talents and gifts. Envy and the unnecessary feeling of being unnoticed because of the blessedness, talents and gifts of the other are destructive and ungodly. They make one lose sight of the values inherent in himself or herself and constitute one into a catastrophic danger against the peaceful cohabitation of all of God’s sons and daughters. These attitudes can make one a destroyer and a murderer. This was the case with some of the men and women of Jesus’s time as we read in the Passion Narrative. For us who believe, we must rediscover the truth that the beauty of the garden is borne out of the contribution of the beauty of the different flowers therein. We must learn to nurture the good in us and encourage the blossoming of the good and beauty in others; because all of these goods and beauties are necessary for the transformation of the world and for the building of a new humanity in Christ. Only by doing so can we overcome the envy and greed that contributed to the suffering and death of Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, hanging on the Cross You uttered those words that changed the story and history of humanity’s relationship with God “it is accomplished.” May the redemptive power in Your Passion and Death heal the world of the spread and scourge of this COVID-19. Help us to accept the crosses in our lives as to merit the benefits You have gained for us; Amen.
May you have a Grace-filled Celebration; Fr Cyril CCE