Homily for Good Friday, Cycle C – Moscow

Because of his affliction, he shall see the light in the fullness of days…he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for [our] offenses.” “He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon Him was the chastisement that makes us whole; by His stripes we were healed.”

In Hebrews we hear, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” (pause)

We’ve arrived at the cross, as inevitable as death itself. Jesus has known for some time that He was born, lived and preached, healed and forgiven, before this final sign of divine love. His disciples, except perhaps His Mother Mary, are dismayed by this turn of events. Wasn’t it just a week ago that they were being acclaimed by the people—their Master heralded as the King Who would restore Israel to glory? A week in which thoughts of power and prestige have dissolved into being treated as heretics and criminals? How could things have gone so wrong in such a short time?

But it’s not been a short time, for the devil has held humanity captive since the dawn of creation with the sin of Adam and Eve. So God has come down to earth, embraced our human nature, to free us from sin. What is so astonishing, however, is that God offers us the choice of accepting Jesus’ call to pick up our crosses and follow Him, or not! We look at His undeserved suffering at the hands of those who do not understand—scourged to the point of death, ridiculed, punctuated with royal cloak and a crown of thorns, driven out of Jerusalem through rocky streets to the place of crucifixion, a rough-hewn cross rubbing on a torn back, nails driven through flesh, hours of suffering struggling to breathe, a lance ripping into the heart of this sacrificial lamb. Why, we might question, should we elect to follow Jesus to the Cross that represents so much unmerited suffering?

But we know the answer…the road to heaven where Jesus reigns runs through Calvary, then to the tomb—the portal to resurrection on Easter Sunday morning! And so in faith, trusting in the promises of Jesus, we shoulder our crosses and follow Him.

Life offers plenty of crosses; however, as Christians we know that it is God’s grace that enables us to carry them. Even in the darkest of times, we can find points of light to show the way. A friend’s note of condolence, a medical procedure that heals, a change in attitude that leads to viewing things in a more positive light, an unexpected kindness that tells us we are loved, a generosity that encourages us to treat others with respect.

On this Good Friday we are compelled to gaze on the shattered corpus of Jesus and His throne—the Cross. Lifted up before our eyes, we may want to look away, but we cannot, for in His suffering and death we recognize the sacrificial lamb Who takes away the sins of the world. Thus transfixed, we solemnly wait these three long hours, knowing our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has already triumphed over sin and death!