Behold the wood of the Cross: the Good Friday Event
Following the events of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we return to our stark, empty churches on this GOOD Friday to approach the foot of the Cross at Golgotha with sorrow mixed with gratitude. For today our Saviour goes to his death for us and in doing so sets an example that the way of true love is not just Service but also Sacrifice. When others around him would scream in agony on their crosses, Jesus utters words of Love: “Father forgive them ….” (Luke 23.34); “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). He himself said “Greater love than this no man has than that he lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” And on this day he shows us how perfect his love is.
Coming into our churches after the altars have been stripped evokes within us the emptiness of a world without Christ. The world has always needed Jesus Christ and always will. By mounting the wood of the Cross that first Good Friday he opened the gates of heaven and the doorway of salvation to all people. He united God and humanity, and humanity with each other. On the Cross he gave every last drop of himself as blood and water flowed from his pierced side, the same blood and water types for the Sacraments that his Mystical Body (the Church) offers for Salvation, Baptism and the Eucharist. The Cross event and its effects did not end that first Good Friday they continue in the Sacraments until that great day when he comes again at the end of time.
The crucified one commands us his followers “You must love the Lord your God … and you must love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31); the two greatest commandments. And today he shows us how far we must go. The Cross is the lens through which we are called to see the world and each other; the Cross gives us our perspective and opens our eyes to reality as God sees it. Christ looks lovingly at us through pained eyes on the Cross, dare we look at him back? What is his response if we do? Judgement? Condemnation? …. No …. It is a look of love, mercy and longing … longing that we love more perfectly in our lives by living life through the lens of the Cross.
Good Friday – The Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
Throughout our churches this day we have come to buildings devoid of life; we have listened to the narrative of Christ’s Passion and death; we have prayed for the Church, the world and all peoples that the saving effects of the Cross may be accepted by all; and we have come to venerate the Cross, the instrument of our Salvation, and receive the crucified one in His Body and Blood at Holy Communion. Finally we have left as we arrived, in silence, in sorrow and in gratitude as we wait knowing this is not the end.
In coming to church this day and venerating the Cross we remember the words of St. John Paul the second on that final Good Friday before his death:
“The adoration of the Cross directs us to a commitment that we cannot shirk: the mission that St Paul expressed in these words: ‘In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church’ (Col 1:24).
“Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
Now we go to the tomb and wait.