HOMILY FOR GOOD FRIDAY, YEAR A, B, C, (no.3)
Theme: I AM HE… WHY DO YOU SLAP (THE TRAGEDY OF FIGHTING GOD)!
By: Fr Benedict Agbo
1. WHY DO YOU BETRAY ME?
HOMILY FOR GOOD FRIDAY: Jesus left the people and crossed the Kedron Valley wanting to have some quiet time with his disciples but Judas knew the place well and brought the cohort of soldiers sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees and betrayed him there.
You that know Jesus very well and you that know the Word of God, the 1st question on this special day is for you : ‘Why do you betray me?’
The strongest message of today’s gospel is : ‘I am he’. As soon as Jesus dropped that powerful statement, the soldiers fell to the ground but he handed himself over to them that the scriptures might be fulfilled : ‘He gave his back to the smitters..’, Is 50 : 6.
2. WHY DO YOU DENY ME?
Outside the door to the High priest’s Palace the maid on duty asked Peter : ‘Aren’t you another of that man’ s disciples? He denied. Courage was lacking completely because he did not pray. It is not abnormal to have been afraid at that hour but he should never have denied his master especially when he was forewarned. According to Vima Dasan : ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to push on in the face of it. Courage is grace under pressure, for it is fear that has said its prayers’.
You that have followed Jesus closely for some years now, the second question is for you : ‘Why do you deny me?’
3. WHY DO YOU SLAP ME?
The highpriest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching – They were very useless questions. Jesus told him to go and ask his hearers since he taught openly in the synagogue and the temple. At these words, one of the guards gave him a dirty slap in the face. Jesus said : ‘If there is any offence in what I said, point it out, but if there is none, why do you strike me?’
Why do you go violent against the truth and against its bearers? This 3rd question is for you if you are guilty of this offence. Remember the Bible warns : ‘Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm’. Jesus is asking you this 3rd question : ‘Why do you slap me?’ He asked Paul a similar question so many years ago on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians, Act 9 : 5 and he repented and got born again. How about you today who support Omabe, Odo, Akatakpa and all cults of violence that slap the children of God?
4. WHY DO YOU CONDEMN ME?
Jesus made it clear before Pilate that he was not a worldly politician : ‘Mine is not a kingdom of this world’. He understood the truth and wanted to release him but as a worldly minded politician, he not only dangled to the stupid majority vote of the people but feared to offend the stake holders and the cabals of the ruling party. At the end, he released Barabbas, a notorious criminal and condemned Jesus the Lord of life.
You that are involved in the politics of Nigeria today and other countries of the world, you that are involved in employments and appointment of workers and leaders, the 4th question is for you : Why do you disfavour the most qualified? Why do you eliminate the righteous men from leadership only to vote criminals into power? And you that cast your votes for criminals, the question is still for you : ‘Why do you condemn me?’
5. WHY ARE YOU STILL NOT BELIEVING?
Jesus hung on the Cross for several hours and said : ‘I am thirsty’. Yes, he is indeed very thirsty for souls. Then he said before he expired : ‘It is accomplished’.
When they pierced his side, water and blood gushed forth for the salvation of mankind. The soldiers themselves who pierced his side and tried to break his bones ended up confessing that he was the Son of God. As St John Chrysostom succinctly puts it in today’s Office of the readings : ‘Do you wish to know of the power of Christ’s blood? Let us go back to the account of what took place in Egypt, where Christ’s blood is foreshadowed… Do you wish to learn from another source the power of this blood? See where it began to flow, from what spring it flowed down from the cross, from the Master’s side -water and blood ; one was a symbol of baptism, the other the Eucharist mysteries ‘
Even Joseph Arimathea, Nicodemus and all those who admired Jesus in secret now came out to help. The last question is for you the still unbelieving Christian : ‘Why are you still unbelieving?’ Why are you still as a Christian, a Priest, a religious, a CMO, CWO, CYMO or CYWO leader betraying, denying, slaping , condemning and fighting Jesus? His Word says today : ‘I am he… Why do you slap me?’