Friday, 7 April 2023 : Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today marks the occasion of Good Friday, the day when the Lord suffered and died for us all. It was on this day over two millennia ago that the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God and Saviour of the whole world took up His Cross, embarked on the way of His suffering and eventually dying on the Cross for our sake. This is truly a ‘Good’ Friday because without everything that the Lord had done for us, we would have no hope out of the darkness of our lives, and we would not have enjoyed the assurance of God’s love and grace which He has poured down generously upon us and shown us through Christ, His Son, Whose death on the Cross is the everlasting sign of His undying and most generous love, His ever enduring love and commitment towards all that He has promised to us, to the Covenant He had made with us.

Continuing from the discourse of Holy Thursday, we must realise that the whole Easter Triduum is one great celebration that cannot be separated from each other. On Holy Thursday yesterday, as we commemorate the Lord’s Last Supper with His disciples, His institution of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood, we are reminded that what the Lord had said at that Last Supper, as He broke and shared His Body and Blood to His disciples, with the words, ‘Take and eat, this is My Body which has been given up for you.’ and ‘Take and drink, this is the chalice of My Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.’, all of these came to completion with the Passion, the suffering and crucifixion of Our Lord Himself on this Good Friday. What began on Holy Thursday, the great Passover feast, was accomplished on the Cross, just as the Lord Himself said at the end, ‘It is accomplished!’

Like the Jewish Passover of old, when the Lord told His people, the Israelites, to take a one year old young, unblemished lamb and to sacrifice it on the fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar, the month of Nisan, therefore, the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb, also took it upon Himself, to offer Himself as the Lamb to be slaughtered, on the day of preparation just before the Passover, which was on Good Friday itself. As it is noted at the end of our Gospel reading of the Passion today that the crucifixion ended when the Jewish people were on the eve of their Passover, it was truly not a coincidence that the Lord suffered, was crucified and died at the exact same time when the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered and sacrificed, for the liberation of the people of God from their enslavement and domination by the Egyptians. That is because by His offering of Himself as the Paschal Lamb of sacrifice, the perfect offering, He has become for us the same source of liberation from the tyranny, dominion and enslavement by sin and death.

The Lord willingly did all of these because of His great love for each one of us. Everything had been prepared and foretold in advance, but no one could have predicted the extent to which the Lord was willing to go in order to save us all. Instead of sending a mere prophet or messenger to complete everything that He has willed to happen, the Lord chose to embrace us Himself, by coming down upon us, to dwell in our midst and being incarnate in the flesh, walking amongst us in the form of a Man. That was what the Lord had foretold and spoken through His prophets and messengers, veiled from the fullness of truth and understanding until everything had come to pass. From our perspective, we who have received the fullness of God’s truth, we have seen the truth revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Who has come to us, and willingly embraced and took up upon Himself the full burden of the Cross, all the sins and wickedness we have committed, and the punishments associated with them, to bear them Himself, to the hill of Calvary.

As we have heard in our first reading today, everything happened just as the Lord had revealed it to us through His prophets. The prophet Isaiah had spoken particularly a lot about the Messiah or Saviour Who was to come into the world, revealing that He would be born through the Woman, the Holy Virgin that God would appoint, and everything indeed came true with Mary and her miraculous conception and birth of Our Lord Jesus. The Lord has also come into our midst, willingly becoming the Man to be humbled, humiliated and crushed, to be burdened and pushed to endure the great sufferings and persecutions for the sake of all of us, His beloved ones. As we heard from the prophet Isaiah, the Holy One of God would be broken for us, crushed for us and be destroyed so that by His suffering and pains, His sorrows and wounds, all of us would be healed. As Isaiah said, this Man would bear upon Himself all of our punishments and sorrows, so that by His brokenness and sorrows, His wounds and hardships, all of us would be healed from our own hardships and wounds.

Then, there was also that clear allusion and reference to the lamb being slaughtered, referring to the Passover lamb, and in this case, the Lord Jesus Himself, as the Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb Who takes away the sins of the whole world. By His wounds and the broken Body, the outpoured Blood, all of which He has done freely and most generously out of love for all of us, He has shown us the path to eternal life and true joy with Him. That is what Good Friday is all about, the love of God made Man, and His love manifested and shown to us, by His willing embrace of suffering and death, to suffer our punishments and trials for our sake, loving us most selflessly and generously despite of our constant and frequent rebelliousness and wickedness, everything that we have always done in spite of His love and compassion, His kindness and patience all these while. On this Good Friday, we remember especially Christ our Lord, our Saviour, Whose kindness and compassion towards us has opened for us the path to true happiness, and which is why this day is a truly a ‘Good’ day.

However, on this day, we have to better appreciate everything that the Lord had done for us. Too often we mankind have ignored the Lord, rejected and spurned His love, refused to listen to Him and being difficult in resisting His many efforts to reach out to us with love and kindness. Through His Son, God has reestablished with us, the connection that was once lost for us due to sin, the connection that we have to God, our loving Father and Creator. For Christ through His Cross has made a Bridge that linked us all with God, as a Bridge that crossed the uncrossable and infinite chasm existing between Him and all of us due to sin. Sin has caused us to be sundered and separated from God, and we have been cast out of Eden and God’s Presence because of our pride, greed and desires, everything that we did in rejecting His generous love. But God’s love for us endured still, and that is why He sent us His Son, and through Whom we have received the guarantee and assurance of salvation and eternal life.

He established with us a new and eternal Covenant, sealed by His own Most Precious Blood, and by the offering and sacrifice of His own Most Precious Body, as a most worthy sacrifice, allowed Himself to be betrayed and rejected by His own people, and even by one of those closest to Him, that by uniting His sufferings and hardships to ours, He might raise us all up from the depth of our downfall due to sin, and bring us back to Himself. Through His perfect obedience to the will of His heavenly Father, Christ showed us as the Son of Man, how we ourselves should be like in our way of life and in our actions. He showed us all perfect love, both for God, His Father and also for all of us, His own brothers and sisters, by the shared humanity that He has embraced us with. He Himself has told us that the most important Law and Commandments are to love God with all of our heart, with all of our strength and might, and that we should do the same to our fellow brethren as well. That was exactly what He had done for us.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we commemorate the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Our Saviour and King, let us all focus our attention on the Cross of Christ, and remember all that He had done for us, the love of God made Man, manifest and tangible for us. Let us all remember everything that God had done for us as we look upon the Cross. On that Cross hung the salvation of the whole world, our entire Hope and the Light that pierced through the darkness of sin and the wickedness of this world, leading us all towards righteousness in God. And as we look upon the Cross, let us all affix our gaze upon the Lord, Whose own gaze was affixed at all of us, and let us all remember how He prayed even for those who have persecuted and condemned Him to death. We often forget the fact that Christ died for everyone, even for all those who have hated and persecuted Him.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is indeed very easy for us to point our fingers to blame Judas Iscariot, those chief priests and Pharisees and everyone else who have been involved in the Passion, the suffering and death of Our Lord. However, do we all actually realise that we are all just as great sinners as they were too? Do we all realise that we ourselves have also often betrayed the Lord, rejected and abandoned Him for worldly things, matters and attachments that we had? Do we realise just how often we refused to listen to the Lord and preferred instead to listen to the lies and falsehoods of the devil, embracing all sorts of temptations and pressures from the world, doing what were wicked and evil in the presence of God? Today, as we look upon the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, let us all spend the precious time to look deep within ourselves, and see in what way our actions and way of life had caused hurt and pain towards the Lord.

Let us all not forget that all of the wounds and pain suffered by the Lord, are all of our sins, our evils, wickedness and unworthy actions, words and deeds. Each and every one of our iniquities are what causing the Lord all the wounds and hurts He experienced. As we recall the reading of Our Lord’s Passion, everything that He had done for our sake, let us be abashed and humbled, and reminded of just how wicked and sinful we had been. Let us commit ourselves to follow the Lord faithfully once again, and reject the wickedness of the world. Let us all seek the Lord with all of our might and focus our attention on Him, remembering His Passion and His love for us, which He has given us most generously from His Cross. And as we behold the Holy Cross of Christ, let us all remember that through the Cross, all of us have been brought into triumph in the great struggle against sin, evil and death.

Now, let us all continue our faithful observance of the Easter Triduum, by keeping our focus on the Lord, our Crucified Christ, Who has died for us. Let us always remember that He did not remain in death, but rose gloriously in His Resurrection, conquering and defeating death in His wake. Through Christ, let us all therefore come ever closer to God and His salvation, and may all of us continue to grow ever stronger in faith and commitment, in our desire to love God and to follow Him wholeheartedly at all times. May all of us be exemplary Christians, as good and faithful disciples of Our Lord at all times. May God bless us always, continue to love us and grant us His grace. Amen.

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