Friday, March 21, 2008

Can man be saved? (Good Friday homily)

With the exception
of Easter Sunday,

this is the day of all days.
This is the day we must face—
must look at something
truly horrible:

Look at it!
We see the Cross,
and we ask “Why?”

Be very clear:

No one made Jesus do this.
The Father did not make
his Son do this.

Before time, the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit knew
man would sin.

God saw it all, from the smutty little sins that twist us—our vanities, our lusts, our self-importance, our wrath, our gluttony, our indifference--to the unimaginable horrors men visit on each other, from Cain and Abel, to Hitler and Mao, to Rwanda and in our own country, abortion. God saw it all…and He chose to go ahead with the world and us; he chose to become one of us; God-with-us.
Was there no other way but the Cross? Of course there was. God is God. God chose this way.
Remember—God didn’t invent the Cross—we did. Had God never become man, humanity would still have faced a cross, but now alone; and it would have been all death with no life.

St. Thomas tells us the Cross was “too much”:
“Any suffering of his, however slight,
was enough to redeem the human race…”
The Cross is God’s exclamation mark
on the sheer extravagance of his mercy.
What could be more extreme in generosity
than to give the maximum
when the barest minimum was already generous?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said this:
I tell you that if God had not come down …
and given us the supreme example of sacrifice,
then it would be possible for fathers and mothers,
men and women of countless ages,
to do something greater, it would seem,
than God himself could do, namely,
lay down their lives for a friend.

Why the Cross?
Consider an amazing image
from our late Holy Father,
Pope John Paul the Great:
God came to earth—
so man could put God on trial—
so that man could forgive God.

Our late pope asked,
"Could God have justified himself
before human history, so full of suffering,
without placing Christ’s Cross
at the center of that history?
"Obviously, one response could be
that God does not need to justify himself to man.
It is enough that he is omnipotent.
From this perspective everything he does
or allows must be accepted.

"But God, who besides being Omnipotence
is Wisdom and—to repeat once again—Love,
desires to justify himself to mankind.
"He is not the Absolute that remains outside
of the world, indifferent to human suffering.
He is Emmanuel, God-with-us,
a God who shares man’s lot
and participates in his destiny.
"The crucified Christ is
proof of God’s solidarity
with man in his suffering."

We blame God—God does not argue.
He comes to us—offers himself for trial.
Pilate presides—
and we are all in that court as jury.
We found him guilty—
and sentenced him to death.
The price is paid. God himself atones.
God and man are reconciled.
We see the horror of the Cross;
we see the horror of human evil;
and we wonder—can man be saved?

The Cross is our answer.
It is God saying “Yes.”

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