Liturgical Colour : Red
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Good Friday, which we all know is the celebration of that momentous occasion when all of mankind were brought out of the hopelessness and despair of the darkness of the world and into the new hope because of one singular act of God, who made it all possible, through what Jesus Christ had done. It is exactly by His obedience to God His Father and by laying down His life on the cross, that He had brought us mankind to salvation.
That is why today is a good day, the Good Friday, for it is because of what had happened on this day that changed our fate. For once we had expected only suffering and death, and we feared death because it brings us nothing but anguish, sorrow, difficulties, uncertainties and many others, and because of what Christ had done on the cross for us, now we can look forward and head to the world that is to come, one that lies beyond death, and one that is of hope and joy.
There are indeed several aspects to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, and there are several dimensions and significance that all of us should be aware of. And on this occasion when we commemorate that moment of the crucifixion, is the most appropriate moment for us to reflect on the significance of this to our own lives, and to our own faith in God.
We most likely know of the fact that when Christ carried that burden of the cross, He was in fact carrying the burdens of our sins. We most likely should also know that, based on what we have commonly heard in catechisms and teachings of the Church, that because He carried for us the burdens and punishments for sins, in place of us, then that was why we who believe in Him have been made free from the consequences of the sins we had committed.
However, the significance extended even much deeper beyond what we often knew, and indeed, the crucifixion, the suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ, was the culmination of God’s grand plan to rescue us mankind, the pinnacle of the entire Holy Scriptures and all the things in them. God has planned our salvation and liberation from sin from the very beginning of time, a very, very long time ago, and in Christ, all those plans and promises were completed perfectly.
God had made Himself into Man through Jesus, assuming the flesh of a lowly and humble Man, so that in doing so, He might reverse what mankind had erred at the beginning, starting from the first man, Adam, who disobeyed the Lord’s commandments together with Eve, his wife, and ate the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were persuaded and tempted by Satan to listen to their own desires rather than to listen to and to obey the Lord.
The new Adam, that is Christ, has been the One who showed mankind, all of us, that it is possible to resist and reject the temptations of our flesh and of Satan. It is possible indeed for us all to refuse the malicious offers of the evil one, but indeed only if we follow what Christ had done. He listened to the Lord, who is His Father, He refused to listen to the sweet lies of Satan and to give in to human desires and wishes.
He is God, Almighty and All-Powerful, All-Knowing and Ever-Present. There is nothing in this world that is impossible for Him. If He wanted it, He could have had it easy, refusing the cross and the suffering, letting us all to perish because of our sins. And yet, He did not do that, firstly because He loves us all so much, to the point that He was willing to go through the most horrendous and greatest of sufferings just so that we may be brought to freedom from our sins and their consequences.
He obeyed the will of the Father, and even though He was tempted during His moments of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, He obeyed and pushed on, out of His infinite and undying love for all of us. And His perseverance brought us much goodness, the liberation from the bonds of sin. God gave His only Son, for this very purpose, and He showed us as the new Adam, that mankind has the choice and the potential to change their fate, and to reject the rebellious ways of our ancestors.
And we can indeed compare this moment, the new covenant and Passover of the Lord, with the ancient and first Passover, when the people of Israel were liberated from their slavery under the Egyptians and their Pharaohs. At that night, before they were freed, they were told to eat the Passover meal, where the Passover lamb whose blood had been used to mark their houses and the flesh as the food for the people, had been given as sacrifice for their liberation.
That night was different from every other night, and at every Passover, the Jews commemorated that moment, including at the Last Supper, when Jesus had the Passover meal with His disciples. At that night however, it was indeed very different from any other night, and from any observation of the Passover. It was because instead of the usual celebration of the Passover, Jesus gave His own Body and Blood as the sacrificial offering, offered freely by the Lamb of God, through whom then He liberated us all from the true slavery, that is the slavery by our sins.
So, just as the people of Israel were set free, we have also been set free by our Lord through the cross. The cross of Christ represents the symbol of hope for us all, that by the Lord’s power, the power and poison of death had been destroyed forever. At the time of Moses, when the people of Israel were journeying through the desert, they rebelled against the Lord and as a punishment, God sent fiery and poisonous serpents that killed many of them.
Moses pleaded for the mercy of God, and God instructed him to craft a bronze serpent mounted on a tall staff, so that all who saw it may not die but live. And as Jesus told to Nicodemus, that just as the bronze serpent was lifted up and people who saw it were saved, so thus He, the Lamb of God, would also be lifted up high on the cross, that all who believe in Him and His cross, will be saved.
The cross, on which Christ hung from, is a clear reminder of that act of ultimate selflessness and ultimate love which our Lord had shown us, but it is also a reminder of what we need to do on our side, in order to fulfill the covenant, the new covenant which God had sealed with His own Blood and His own sacrifice on the cross. It is love that we should do and commit to in our lives.
The cross is made of two bars, joined together, namely the vertical and the horizontal bars. This is to remind us that act of love, that is when we love, we cannot separate the two important acts of love we need to do, firstly to our God, and then to our brethren, our neighbours around us, our fellow men. The vertical bar represents the love which we should have for our Lord, who had loved us so much first, so much so that He was willing to sacrifice Himself and suffer all the consequences of our sins, for the sake of us lowly humans, sinners and unrepentant rebels.
But it will not be complete, if we also do not love those who are around us. This is represented by the horizontal bar of the cross. A cross will not be complete without the vertical or the horizontal bar. This is to show us that we cannot just love ourselves and others without loving God and loving what He had done for us out of live, and neither can we just love God and ignore others who are around us. There are many people out there who are ostracised, rejected and unloved daily, and if we have the capacity to love, then why not?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we commemorate this important moment, let us all reflect on our own actions, whether we have loved God with all of our hearts and with all of our strength, as well as loving our fellow brothers and sisters, without bias and without prejudice. It is what we should do. Remember also that every time we come for the Mass, we share together the meal of the Last Supper of the Apostles, where our Lord Jesus Christ transformed the bread and wine into the substance of His own Body and Blood.
Therefore, we all in the Eucharist also share the same Body and Blood of our Lord, who had given them freely, so that we who worthily receive them, receive also Him, who dwells in us, justifies us, and allow us to receive the heavenly grace of salvation and eternal life, which Christ had made possible by His suffering and death on the cross. Let us all today therefore commit ourselves to be better servants and followers of our Lord. Amen.