Good Friday – 2015
Is.52:13-53/ Heb.4:14-16, 5:7-9/ Jn.18:1-19, 42
Whenever we mention “Good Friday” the first impression we have is the cross. Obviously that is the most recognizable and easily understood symbol of Good Friday. It is simply because Jesus died on the Cross on Good Friday. We have just heard the gospel account of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The gospel recounted for us how Jesus was betrayed and abandoned by his own disciples, how he was rejected and condemned by His own people, and how He suffered and eventually died on the cross. Today we are also reminded that Jesus suffered and died for us even though we are still sinners.
There were three crosses on Golgotha. On the right and on the left were two robbers crucified for rebellion and murder. On one cross Jesus died for our sin; on another cross the unrepentant thief died in sin, and on the third cross a repentant thief died to sin. On the center cross hung a sinless Sufferer! He was dying for the sins of the world.
Jesus spoke seven times during the closing moments of his earthly life, as he died on the Cross. It has been an age old practice in the Church to reflect on these last words of Jesus from the cross as an integral part of Good Friday observance so that we may repent of our sins, resolve to renew our lives and thus participate fully in the joy of Jesus’ Resurrection.
THE WORD OF FORGIVENESS: Then said Jesus, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk.23:34). Now, from the cross, Jesus’ thoughts reached above his pain and rejection. Instead of being consumed with his own pain and misery, Jesus asked forgiveness for those responsible for the evil done to him. Jesus prayed for those who condemned Him, mocked Him and nailed Him to the Cross.
If someone hurts our feelings can we forgive that person, pray for God’s blessings on him or her and continue to treat him or her as our friend? Here is a Chinese proverb: “One who hates another digs two graves: one for himself and the other for the one he hates.”
THE WORD OF ASSURANCE: Then [the thief on Jesus’ right] said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”(Lk.23:42-43). When sunlight falls on wax it melts, but the same warmth hardens the clay.
The waxy heart of the thief on the right melted with repentance at the sight of Jesus crucified. We are here to remember how Jesus died on the cross to save each human soul, paying his life as ransom. Will we follow the example of the repentant thief who, seeing the death of Jesus, was converted.
THE WORD OF COMFORT: When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (Jn.19:26-27).
This is Jesus’ loving death-bed gift to each of his followers: giving us his mother as our mother, the mother of Christians, mother of the Church, to honor, love, and respect and imitate. She is the supreme model of trusting faith in God, the model of perfect obedience to the will of God and the model of perfect surrender of one’s life to God.
THE WORD OF DESOLATION: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matt.27:45-46). This fourth and central Word of Jesus on the Cross is another prayer, from the Psalms. Every one of us experiences despair and rejection at certain periods of our life. Jesus’ word of desolation teaches us that there is no despair so deep or evil so overwhelming. He is there by our side, feeling everything that we are feeling, and that He will not fail us, forsake us, or abandon us.
THE WORD OF SUFFERING: “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst” (Jn.19:28). Jesus expressed this thirst for souls. So by saying that He was thirsty, He was actually saying that He was putting all His faith in the saving power of God. And that is what we should be hoping and thirsting for – that we share in the victory of the resurrection of Christ.
THE WORD OF TRIUMPH: “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished” (Jn.19:30). The Savior was about to die. It was for this cause that Jesus came into the world, and now that his mission was accomplished, he raised his voice in a triumphant shout: “It is finished!” So, when Jesus said “It is finished,” what is finished? It is the debt we owe God by our sins. It has been paid in full! This is a cry of victory.
Can we die saying joyfully and gratefully the sixth and seventh words of Christ in all sincerity? It is possible if we live our Christian life doing the will of God in all sincerity and commitment.
THE WORD OF COMMITTAL: “Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’; and when he had said this he breathed his last”(Lk.23:46). Jesus was always submitting Himself to God, and when He died, He died just as He had lived. Jesus entrusted his spirit –his life – and all that had given it meaning – to God his Father in faith.
We, too, are told, “Commit to the Lord your way; trust in Him, and he will act” (Ps.37:5). Let us live in such a way as to hear the welcome words of God our Father, “This is My beloved son in whom I am well pleased” (Matt.3:17).