One of the many graces of this day is the simplest:
the time we take to face the Cross.
Did you notice we have no bells ringing today?
One of the important things about Good Friday is silence.
We need to be silent before the Cross,
because the Cross confronts us
with things we don’t want to face, but we must.
Maybe one of the questions we ask is why?
Why did Jesus go to the Cross?
First, a very important point. No one forced Jesus to do this.
As he himself said, when he was arrested,
do you think I cannot call on my Father,
and he will send twelve legions of angels?
But then, how will the Scriptures be fulfilled in this way?”
Before the first word of Scripture was uttered,
before the world began,
it was God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—
who chose the path that led to the Cross.
So we ask again: Why? Why this?
Last Sunday, they had the movie,
“The Passion of the Christ” on one of the TV channels.
It’s a very powerful movie, I recommend it.
Yet I didn’t watch it; and I’ll tell you why.
It’s so awful to see what they did to our Lord.
I just didn’t want to see that.
Yet on Good Friday, we must face it.
When we say, as we do, that Jesus paid for our sins,
do you realize how much he “overpaid”?
Saint Thomas Aquinas taught that
because of the perfection of the Son of God,
“Any suffering of his, however slight,
was enough to redeem the human race.”
That means a mere scratch on his finger would have paid!
So we are still wondering: Why Lord?
Why? Because this teaches us God’s extravagant mercy.
How can we question whether God will give, give, and give still more,
when on the Cross he gave the maximum
when the minimum would have been enough?
Second, when we see the ugliness of the Lord’s suffering and death,
it’s a kind of mirror.
We want to tell ourselves all manner of things about sin:
it’s not so bad. It doesn’t really affect anyone else.
And we often want to see the glamor and attractiveness of sin.
And then we come to the Cross. We see the truth about sin.
We look at our world, and wonder, why is there evil?
Why does this country start a war with this one?
Why do powerful people do such terrible things
to hold onto their power?
How can people be so indifferent?
But the truth is,
evil isn’t something that falls on earth from the sky.
Where does it come from? From the human heart.
And if we’re not careful, next thing we say is,
“it came from your heart—you—you’re the problem!”
And the violence continues.
And so for that reason, God came to the Cross.
How many times has each of us said: “someone must pay.”
Someone did. And how!
Do you want revenge? Do you think you have it coming?
There’s your revenge.
Are you ever angry at God?
There’s God’s response.
“By his stripes we are healed.”