Good Friday

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Good Friday

29 March 2013

In our own time perhaps more than in the past, we have become conscious of the drabness and the ugliness of our world, brought about very often by greed, lack of thought and care, and a belief that the world is there for us to use in whatever way we wish. But we know that are still places of beauty, and times of happiness as well.

There was not much  happiness to be seen on Calvary. This was very much a part of the real world - a world which presents too many examples of power abused, and human cruelty claiming yet another victim.

There is no disguising the horror and the suffering of Christ's death by crucifixion.

So disguised did he look that he seemed no longer human...  “without beauty, without majesty and thing despised and rejected.”

Here we have yet another person reduced to a disposable thing. But here we also have a most powerful reminder that God did not evade the ugliness of our world but has entered into the very depths of it.

“Ours were the sufferings he bore - ours the sorrow he carried.”

Through this deep solidarity with humanity, the real world is connected once more to the glory of God. Jesus was a victim too.

We heard in the Gospel how he was brought before the two leaders of the time - the High Priest Caiphas, and the Roman Governor, Pilate. Jesus stands before Caiphas who says that "it is better for one person to die for the people." How would we like to hear that from our leaders today?

And then Jesus goes before Pilate: the discussion is about truth - the real King has come to bear witness to the truth. Perhaps we need to have a  little understanding of Pilate. He seemed to be trying to get his ideas clearer. Jesus was certainly clear. “Yes, I am a King. I was born for this, I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth.” But Pilate’s late enquiries were not enough. A criminal named Barabbas was given preference over him.

But the journey of Jesus through his life has always been a journey towards victory and glory. It might have appeared that he was journeying in the wrong direction, but in the end he could say on the cross "It is accomplished."

We may not have been there at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, but we have shared at times in the cynicism of Caiphas and Pilate. We have chosen forms of power over people instead of expressions of love. We have at least acquiesced as people have been turned into things.

But these failings were included in the sufferings of Jesus and through these wounds "we are healed".

Calvary is the place where our humanity is restored, and where we can share in the very glory of God. We are not "things" to be pushed around by public opinion, and recorded as numbers on a computer data base.

We can be like the women who stand at the foot of the cross, and Joseph of Arimathea who abandons his secret discipleship of Jesus to claim his body. It is through the Death of Jesus, that we can see beauty in ourselves, in one another and in the world around us.