Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we mark the important occasion of Good Friday, on which day we remember the Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, as we are surely all familiar with, as He brought His Cross from Jerusalem right up to the hill of Calvary, was nailed on the Cross, raised up and eventually died. Through His death, the Lord has brought us all the salvation and the eternal life that He has promised to each and every one of us. This day we remember that act of supreme love which Our Lord had done for us, remembering His own words, that there is no greater love than for one to lay down his life for a friend.

This Good Friday celebration reminds us of all that God had done for us, out of His persistent and enduring love for each one of us sinners. He loved us all so much that He has given us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Who suffered and died for our sake. This same Christ brought His Cross and placed it firmly on His shoulders, taking upon Himself all of our faults and sins, enduring on our behalf all the sufferings and punishments due for those sins, so that by His sufferings, His wounds, He might become for us a source of sure hope and consolation, bringing upon us redemption and a new life blessed by God, to be reunited with God, our most loving Father and Creator.

His suffering and death has been long foretold before by the prophets, most prominently by Isaiah, as we heard in our first reading today. Through the Servant prophesied by Isaiah, God would bring about the salvation of all mankind. Yet, He would have to endure the worst treatments and the greatest humiliations in order to accomplish His mission. He would be broken and crushed, and all of the sufferings intended for us would be placed squarely on His shoulders. Those were all the things that Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, had willingly accepted upon Himself, in fulfilment of the prophecies made about Him.

And in continuation of yesterday’s discourse from the Mass of Holy Thursday, the Institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Last Supper, I have shared earlier how today’s events cannot be separated from all the events that were commemorated yesterday. I mentioned how the Last Supper is the New Passover and the hallmark of the New Covenant which Our Lord has made and established with us, modelled upon the original Passover which happened in the land of Egypt, when the Lord saved the Israelites from the tyranny of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh.

At the Last Supper, the Lord made a fundamental change to the celebration of the Passover, which while was still essentially similar, He placed Himself as the centre and the focus of the commemoration, and the absence of the usual young, unblemished lamb that were slain and sacrificed, to be shared by everyone. And that is because in the new Passover and the new Covenant, Christ Himself is the Lamb, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. This is important because at the Last Supper, the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist, transforming the bread and wine fully into the essence, substance and reality of His own Precious Body and Blood.

He shared His Precious Body and Blood in the bread He blessed and broke, and in the wine He blessed and shared with the disciples, and through them, He has passed the same Eucharist to us. At every celebration of the Holy Mass, as the priests prayed the prayer of consecration, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine the priests offered on our behalf at the Mass, are also transformed into the same Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. Yet, at the same time, it is not that a new sacrifice is offered each time the Holy Mass is celebrated, but rather, the same sacrifice of Our Lord that spans the period from the Last Supper to Calvary is brought into our midst, the same loving sacrifice of Our Lord that we remember and celebrate today.

And as I mentioned yesterday night, the Last Supper in fact happened earlier than the typical Passover which happened on the Sabbath. It was mentioned at the end of the Gospel today that after the Lord had died, it was the preparation day for the Sabbath, and He could not be properly buried yet as there was not enough time before the Sabbath began on sunset on the same day of the Lord’s death on the Cross. If we remember what happened on the original Passover, the Lord instructed that the young, unblemished lamb were to be prepared and then slaughtered the day before the Passover. This very day is the day when the Passover lamb was to be slaughtered. When the Lord said from His Cross towards the very end, ‘It is accomplished’, it is a reference to the completion of the offering of the Lord’s sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.

Hence, Good Friday is indeed a commemoration of the moment when Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sinless One and the Lamb of God was slain for us, much as how the Passover lamb was slain and its blood used to mark the houses of the faithful. In the same way, by His death, the offering and sacrifice began at the Last Supper and completed on Good Friday, Our Lord has broken His Body and shed His Blood for us, that on His Cross, the offering and gift of the Eucharist that we all share as Christians, was made complete and perfect. That is why we believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation, that the bread and wine have been fully transformed in essence and reality to the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord Himself.

That is why the Holy Mass itself is the recreation of the events at Calvary, the Lord offering His own Body and Blood, the perfect and worthy Lamb of God, the Paschal Lamb slain for our sake. At the Holy Mass we have the unbloodied representation of the same bloody sacrifice of Our Lord at Calvary, on our Altars the same sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Saviour and High Priest on the Altar of His Cross. That is what the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews had spoken about, that Christ is the one true High Priest Who has offered the perfect sacrifice, with Himself as the sacrificial victim as the Lamb of God. That is why the Mass is truly the pinnacle of our worship, the worship of God Who has come down into our midst to dwell with us, and Who has willingly embraced suffering and death for our sake.

For the only sacrificial offering worthy of the redemption of all mankind is Christ Himself, Who as the perfect and unblemished, immaculate Son of God and Son of Man, has offered Himself as the means for us to be reconciled with God. Through His Cross, He has reestablished the connection and path between us and God, a connection that had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He has shown us the power of God’s love, mercy and compassion. That is why today, even as the whole creation mourns the death of the Son of God, it is a ‘Good’ Friday because this day we who once have no hope of redemption have seen the light of God and the path out of the darkness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we commemorate our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death on the Cross, we are all called to remember that through our baptism, we have shared in the death that Christ has gone through, by dying to our sins and our past way of life. Let us all look upon the Lord crucified today and see in Him, our hope and our salvation, and be fearful no more. Christ our Lord has conquered by His Cross, and by His sacrifice which we now commemorate, He has reunited us all to God. Let us all be thankful to all that He had done for our sake, and commit ourselves to Him anew.

Let us all pick up our crosses and follow Him, as He Himself said that no one can become His disciples unless they pick up their crosses and walk with Him. This is what we need to do from now on. Let this Good Friday commemoration is not just a-once a year event and then is quickly forgotten again once the Holy Week is over. As Christians we are all called to be good role models, inspirations and examples for one another, in how we live our lives and in all of our actions. Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters? Are we ready and capable of committing ourselves to be the faithful witnesses of Our Crucified Christ?

May our Lord Jesus, Who was crucified and died for us all out of His boundless love for each one of us, continue to watch over us as we journey in this world. May all of us remain strong in our faith, commitment and dedication to Our Lord, even as we encounter many challenges and trials in our path. May all of us persevere in faith in the same way that Our Lord has persevered through even the worst of sufferings, pain and humiliation that through Him we may have the hope and joy of eternal life, free forever from the bondage and tyranny of sin and evil, from death and damnation in hell. May God bless us all in the remaining Easter Triduum celebrations and henceforth, that we will always grow ever closer to Him, now and always. Amen.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

John 18 : 1 – John 19 : 42

At that time, when Jesus had finished speaking, He went with His disciples to the other side of the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there, which Jesus entered with His disciples. Now Judas, who betrayed Him, knew the place, since Jesus had often met there with His disciples. So Judas took soldiers and some servants from the chief priests and Pharisees, and they went to the garden with lanterns, torches and weapons.

Jesus knew all that was going to happen to Him; He stepped forward and asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus said, “I am He.” Judas, who betrayed Him, stood there with them. When Jesus said, “I am He,” they moved back and fell to the ground. He then asked a second time, “Who are you looking for?” and they answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am He. If you are looking for Me, let these others go.” So what Jesus had said came true : “I have not lost one of those you gave Me.”

Simon Peter had a sword; he drew it and struck Malchus, the High Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup which the Father has given Me?”

The guards and the soldiers, with their commander, seized Jesus and bound Him; and they took Him first to Annas. Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year; and it was Caiaphas who had told the Jews, “It is better that one Man should die for the people.”

Simon Peter with another disciple followed Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the High Priest, they let him enter the courtyard of the High Priest along with Jesus, but Peter had to stay outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the High Priest, went out and spoke to the maidservant at the gate and brought Peter in.

Then this maidservant on duty at the door said to Peter, “So you also are one of His disciples?” But he answered, “I am not.” Now the servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire and were standing and warming themselves, because it was cold. Peter was also with them warming himself.

The High Priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in places where the Jews meet together, either at the assemblies in synagogues or in the Temple. I did not teach secretly. Why then do you question Me? Ask those who heard Me, they know what I said.”

At this reply one of the guards standing there gave Jesus a blow on the face, saying, “Is that the way to answer the High Priest?” Jesus said to him, “If I have spoken wrongly, point it out; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike Me?” Then Annas sent Him, bound, to Caiaphas, the High Priest.

Now Simon Peter stood there warming himself. They said to him, “Surely you also are one of His disciples.” He denied it, and answered, “I am not.” One of the High Priest’s servants, a kinsman of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you with Him in the garden?” Again Peter denied it, and at once the cock crowed.

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the headquarters of the Roman governor. It was now morning. The Jews did not go inside, lest they be made unclean by entering the house of a pagan, and therefore not allowed to eat the Passover meal. So Pilate came out and asked, “What charge do you bring against this Man?”

They answered, “If He were not a criminal, we would not be handing Him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your own law.” But they replied, “We ourselves are not allowed to put anyone to death.” It was clear from this what kind of death Jesus was to die, according to what Jesus Himself had foretold.

Pilate then entered the court again, called Jesus and asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Does this word come from you, or did you hear it from others?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed You over to me. What have You done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingship does not come from this world. If I were a King, like those of this world, My guards would have fought to save Me from being handed over to the Jews. But My Kingship is not of this world.” Pilate asked Him, “So You are a King?” And Jesus answered, “Just as you say, I am a King. For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of truth hears My voice.” Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Pilate then went out to the Jews again and said, “I find no crime in this Man. Now, according to custom, I must release a prisoner to you at the Passover. With your agreement I will release to you the King of the Jews.” But they insisted and cried out, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.”

Then Pilate had Jesus taken away and scourged. The soldiers also twisted thorns into a crown and put it on His head. They threw a cloak of royal purple around His shoulders; and they began coming up to Him and saluting Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him on the face.

Pilate went outside yet another time and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing Him out, and I want you to know that I find no crime in Him.” Jesus then came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak and Pilate pointed to Him, saying, “Here is the Man!”

On seeing Him the chief priests and the guards cried out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Take Him yourselves and have Him crucified, for I find no case against Him.” The Jews then said, “We have a Law, and according to the Law this Man must die because He made Himself Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this he was more afraid. And coming back into the court he asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “You will not speak to me? Do You not know that I have power to release You, just as I have power to crucify You?”

Jesus replied, “You would have no power over Me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed Me over to you is more guilty.” From that moment Pilate tried to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who makes Himself a King is defying Caesar.”

When Pilate heard this, he had Jesus brought outside to the place called the Stone Floor – in Hebrew Gabbatha – and sat down in the judgment seat. It was the day of preparation for the Passover, about noon. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” But they cried out, “Away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!” Pilate replied, “Shall I crucify your King?” And the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. They took charge of Him. Bearing His own cross, Jesus went out of the city to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew Golgotha. There He was crucified, and with Him two others, one on either side, and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice written and fastened to the cross, which read : Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews. Many Jewish people saw this title, because the place where Jesus was crucified was very close to the city; and the title was written in Hebrew, Latin and Greek. The chief priests said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews’; but, ‘This Man claimed to be King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered them, “What I have written, I have written.”

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each of them. But as the tunic was woven in one piece from top to bottom, they said, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots to decide who will get it.” This fulfilled the words of Scripture : They divided My clothing among them; they cast lots for My garment. This was what the soldiers did.

Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister Mary, who was the wife of Cleophas, and Mary of Magdala, when Jesus saw the mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He said to the mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “There is your mother.” And from that moment the disciple took her to his own home.

Jesus knew all was now finished and, in order to fulfil what was written in Scripture, He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of bitter wine stood there; so, putting a sponge soaked in the wine on a twig of hyssop, they raised it to His lips. Jesus took the wine and said, “It is accomplished.” Then He bowed His head and gave up the Spirit.

As it was Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies to remain on the cross during the Sabbath, for this Sabbath was a very solemn day. They asked Pilate to have the legs of the condemned men broken, so that the bodies might be taken away. The soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man and of the other man, who had been crucified with Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. One of the soldiers, however, pierced His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and water. The one who saw it, has testified to it, and his testimony is true; he knows he speaks the truth, so that you also might believe. All this happened to fulfil the words of Scripture : Not one of His bones shall be broken. Another text says : They shall look on Him Whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea approached Pilate, for he was a disciple of Jesus, though secretly, for fear of the Jews. And he asked Pilate to let him remove the Body of Jesus. Pilate agreed, so he came and took away the Body. Nicodemus, the man who at first had come to Jesus by night, also came and brought a jar of myrrh mixed with aloes, about a hundred pounds. They took the Body of Jesus and wrapped it in linen cloths with the spices, following the burial customs of the Jews.

There was a garden in the place where Jesus had been crucified, and, in the garden, a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And therefore, because the sepulchre was nearby, and the Jewish day of preparation was coming to a close, they placed the Body of Jesus there.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Hebrews 4 : 14-16 and Hebrews 5 : 7-9

We have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, Who has entered heaven. Let us, then, hold fast to the faith we profess. Our High Priest is not indifferent to our weaknesses, for He was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sinning. Let us, then, with confidence approach the throne of grace; we will obtain mercy and, through His favour, help in due time.

Christ, in the days of His mortal life, offered His sacrifice with tears and cries. He prayed to Him Who could save Him from death, and He was heard because of His humble submission. Although He was Son, He learnt through suffering what obedience was, and once made perfect, He became the Source of eternal salvation for those who obey Him.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 30 : 2 and 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17 and 25

In You, o Lord, I take refuge, may I never be disgraced; deliver Me in Your justice. Into Your hands I commend My Spirit; You have redeemed Me, o Lord, faithful God.

I have become an object of reproach for My foes, a horror for My neighbours, a fear to My friends. Those who see Me in the streets flee from Me. I am like the dead, unremembered; I have become like a broken pot, thrown away, discarded.

But I put My trust in You, o Lord, I said : “You are My God;” My days are in Your hand. Deliver Me from the hand of My enemies, from those after My skin.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant; save Me in Your love. Be strong and take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.

Friday, 15 April 2022 : Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Isaiah 52 : 13 – Isaiah 53 : 12

It is now when My Servant will succeed; He will be exalted and highly praised. Just as many have been horrified at His disfigured appearance : “Is this a Man? He does not look like One.” So will nations be astounded, kings will stand speechless, for they will see something never told, they will witness something never heard of.

Who could believe what we have heard, and to whom has YHVH revealed His feat? Like a root out of dry ground, like a sapling He grew up before us, with nothing attractive in His appearance, no beauty, no majesty. He was despised and rejected, a Man of sorrows familiar with grief, a Man from Whom people hide their face, spurned and considered of no account.

Yet ours were the sorrows He bore, ours were the suffering He endured, although we considered Him as One punished by God, stricken and brought low. Destroyed because of our sins, He was crushed for our wickedness. Through His punishment we are made whole; by His wounds we are healed. Like sheep we had all gone astray, each following His own way; but YHVH laid upon Him all our guilt.

He was harshly treated, but unresisting and silent, He humbly submitted. Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer He did not open His mouth. He was taken away to detention and judgment – what an unthinkable fate! He was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for His people’s sins. They made His tomb with the wicked, they put Him in the graveyard of the oppressors, though He had done no violence nor spoken in deceit.

Yet it was the will of YHVH to crush Him with grief. When He makes Himself an offering for sin, He will have a long life and see His descendants. Through Him the will of YHVH is done. For the anguish He suffered, He will see the light and obtain perfect knowledge. My just Servant will justify the multitude; He will bear and take away their guilt.

Therefore I will give Him His portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong. For He surrendered Himself to death and was even counted among the wicked, bearing the sins of the multitude and interceding for sinners.