The Incomparable Act of the Most High God - Good Friday

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > The Incomparable Act of the Most High God - Good Friday

This day is different from every other day of our year. Today our liturgy is marked by solemnity, simplicity and silence.

It is the day we commemorate the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This commemoration is not just about remembering the passing of a great and holy man. It is not about anguish over a cruel act of injustice.

It is about the incomparable act of the Most High God. It is God himself – Jesus Christ, Son of God - who offers himself as a sacrifice on our behalf. It is the good shepherd prepared to lay down his life for his sheep. We are faced with an incomprehensible mystery.

When Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God cries out to his Father, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do” we hear these words as not just a reference to the cruel executioners, but as words that apply to all of humanity, for all time. They are words about each of us. They are words that refer to the sin of mankind – the constant stream of sin, of evil, of hatred, of cruelty, of selfishness, of lack of love.

They refer to my own sins.

It is the sin of humanity that has horribly disfigured the face of man and has cast a deep wedge between a creature made in the image and likeness of the Creator and the God who gave life to humanity as a singular act of love. When God created humanity what he saw was very good, yet humanity betrayed this love and the gift of personal free will. Man turned from honouring the source of life and love and sought a selfish path, a path of destruction. 

This is day that reveals the response of God to the human condition, a condition now destined for destruction. God chose not to condemn or destroy as his justice had every right to do. God chose to manifest the ultimate expression of his profound love for every human being. He asked his own Son to offer his life up in an atoning sacrifice.

God in Jesus Christ took on our human condition and though sinless himself absorbed to himself the full sin of humanity and in the dying agony of crucifixion cried out, “Father, forgive them”.

His prayer was heard and by his wounds we are healed. This act of ultimate self-giving love set humanity free from the wages of our sin: death and separation from God.

This is the day to ponder this extraordinary act of God, realising that his suffering was for us, each of us. It is an act of unparalleled love. It defies our human understanding. We are left speechless before this mystery.

In a few moments we will have the chance to venerate the cross. It is an act of humble recognition of what God has done for us. Let us as the cross is held aloft before us, with a truly humble and contrite heart, say to the Lord “you did this for me”.

In the time that follows as we come forward to venerate the cross – by touch or kiss, by genuflection or bow – let us lay open our hearts, desiring to receive the grace of redemption. Let us allow ourselves to receive the love that God has for one of us. Let us desire to be refreshed in our spirit by the mercy for which we all long and which each of us needs so much.

At the moment of veneration we could pray: “Lord be merciful to me a sinner”.

Today let us venerate the cross of Christ as a deeply personal act of faith. Let us acknowledge as the preface of Easter declares: “dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life”.


Archbishop Julian Porteous
Friday, 18 April 2014