Homily for Good FridayPublished:
April 14, 2017
Exhausted, drained of life by the cost of this fearful conflict, the dead body of the Son of God hangs lifeless on the cross. How terrible the conflict, which could snatch away the life of the Lord of Life.
Yet there is about to be revealed an awesome mystery, a mystery kept secret for long ages (Rom. 16:25), the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things (Eph. 3:9), namely, that Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he himself might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross, whether those on earth or those in heaven (Col. 1:18b-20). For the body of the Lord is but resting after the exhaustion of this dread struggle with the final enemy, death. Because it was in this humanity that he share with us that the Son had exercised his unwavering obedience to death, even death on a cross, the power of God is about to suffuse this body so fully that it will rise glorious never ever subject to death again. And in this rising, the power of death and sin is broken for all eternity.
But today we are confronted with the dead body of the Lord of Life, abandoned, tortured, spit upon and murdered. And in this, the terrible mystery of evil is laid bare and exposed to our gaze. This stark presentation of the consequences of sin should shake us from our complacency to recognize the consequences, so often unintended but relentless in their destructive power, which flow from our own sins. The blatant cruelty and cynical injustice of the death of the Savior should sensitize us to the surreptitious and insidious ambush of evil in our lives and in our world. How easily evil can appear as a mere clinical procedure, masquerade under the guise of care, and dress itself up to deceive. We know well the Apostle’s lament: Sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin, worked death in me through the good…What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate… Miserable one that I am! The leaders in Jerusalem regard Jesus as expendable: You know nothing, do you not consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people? Pilate’s cowardice collapses before the demands of the mob and hands over to death a man he knows is innocent. Religious leaders, outraged that Jesus so easily steps over the boundaries they so carefully place around God ignore the plain evidence of his signs and his message. How easily we are deceived, how facilely we rationalize our failings, how little we trust in the power of the truth when faced with the overwhelming pressure and fear of the violence of the crowd. Yes, the power of evil in the world is mysterious, and we ought rightly fear it, for it has blighted all creation and disfigured the divine image in which we were created.
Yet in that same dead body of the Lord of Life we are also faced with the mystery of the God who is love – a mystery so incomprehensible that we can ponder it only in awe and amazement. We see paradoxically realized in the crucifixion of the Lord the Apostle’s words: Where sin has abounded, grace has even more abounded. Who is this God who, having created a frail creature out of nothing and endowed it with the gift of his own life, responds only with compassion when that same frail creatures hurls insults and betrayals without end? Who is this God who, to redeem a slave, gives away His Son? Who is this God, who responds to the depths of cruelty and hatred with fathomless mercy? Who is this God on the cross, who loved me and gave himself up for me? It is an awesome mystery, one so exquisite in beauty that it is almost too painful to contemplate. This is the God who reveals himself to us today in the dead body of the Lord of Life hanging on the cross – the God who is love and who ceaselessly offers us the way to return to that familiar friendship He shared with us when he first created human beings on the earth.
In the face of such beauty we can respond only with the Apostle’s exclamation: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
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