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.