Posts Tagged Good Friday
“”On this day, when “Christ our passover was sacrificed,” the Church mediates on the passion of her Lord and Spouse, adores the cross, commemorates her origin from the side of Christ asleep on the cross, and intercedes for the salvation of the whole world” (Circular Letter Concerning the Preparation and Celebration of the Easter Feasts (Prot. 0) January 16, 1988 by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship no. 58)
Terrorism is nothing new. It’s probably as old as the human race.
In fact the cradle of civilization, now Iraq, was the home of the most infamous terrorists of antiquity, the Assyrians. Their goal was to conquer their neighbors in a way that would minimize initial resistance and subsequent rebellion. To do this, they knew fear would be their greatest weapon. Simple threat of death for those who resisted was not enough because many would prefer death to slavery. So the Assyrians developed the technology to produce the maximum amount of pain for the longest amount of time prior to death. It was called crucifixion. This ingenious procedure proved to be very effective terror tactic indeed.
It was the policy of the Roman Empire to adopt from conquered peoples whatever appeared useful. They found crucifixion an excellent tool of intimidation. The humiliation of being stripped naked to die in a public spectacle was particularly loathsome to Jews for whom public nudity was an abomination. Incidentally, crucifixion was deemed so horrible that Roman law forbade that it be carried out on a Roman citizen, even a traitor. It was reserved only for slaves and conquered peoples.
At the beginning of his last week, Jesus was greeted in Jerusalem as a heroic savior, someone to free the Jews from Roman authority. By the end of the week, Jesus was no longer seen as a hero. He was even betrayed by Judas, the treasurer of the apostles, for thirty shekels of silver which is the monetary worth of a slave. Denied thrice by Peter, whom he has chosen to be the head of the apostles. Abandoned by the other apostles except John. Demanded to be crucified by the same people who shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” [Mt. 21:9]. Lastly, “rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes,” who handed him to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged and crucified (see Lk 24:26-27. 44-45; Mk 8:31; Mt 20:19.) as he prophesied earlier.
Jesus’ violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God’s plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: “This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Act 2:23). This biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were passive players in a scenario written in advance by God (cf. Acts 3:13, CCC 599).
For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness (cf. Mt 26:54; Jn 18:36; 19:11; Acts 3:17-18). The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through putting to death of “the righteous one, my Servant” as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin (Is 53:11; cf. 53:12; Jn 8:34-36; Acts 3:14). Hence, Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.
Faithful to the saving mission he received from God the Father, Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” [Phil. 2:8] In His Divine incarnation, He humbled Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. Jesus did not empty Himself of His Divinity but He voluntarily gave up the Divine glory to which He was entitled, a glory that would be restored at His exaltation. [Jn. 17:5; Mt. 17:1-8]
]Having humbled Himself, even unto death, God exalted Jesus, giving Him the Name that is above every name. [Phil. 2:9; Eph. 1:21; Heb. 1:4; 1 Pet. 3:22] That at the Name of Jesus, in an act of religious adoration, every knee should bend, in Heaven and on earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Phil. 2:10-11; 1 Cor. 12:3; Rom. 10:9; Col. 2:6]
John the evangelist captures the mystery of salvation when he writes, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes will not die but may have eternal life (Jn 3:16). Hence, it was not the nails that hung Jesus on the cross but God’s love for us in his Son Jesus Christ, the image of God’s compassionate and gracious love for His people.
Have faith in God and in the One whom He sent for us and for our salvation. As John says, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Besides, “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). “
We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you. Because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world” (St. Francis of Assisi). Tell the world of His LOVE.
Today, allow me to share with you a catechetical homily based on Catechism of Catholic Church (CCC) that will be of help in enlightening every one and prevent or free us from judging harshly and blaming only the Jews, Judas, Pilate or even the demons whom we thought the sole responsible individuals and groups for the passion and death of Jesus.
From the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, certain Pharisees and partisans of Herod together with priests and scribes agreed together to destroy Jesus because of his certain acts like expelling demons, forgiving sins, healing on the sabbath day, his novel interpretation of the precepts of the Law regarding purity, and his familiarity with tax collectors and public sinners.
Some ill-intentioned persons suspected Jesus of demonic possession. He is accused of blasphemy and false prophecy, religious crimes which the Law punished with death by stoning.
In the eyes of many in Israel, Jesus seems to be acting against essential institutions of the Chosen People:
– submission to the whole of the Law in its written commandments and, for the Pharisees, in the interpretation of oral tradition;
– the centrality of the Temple at Jerusalem as the holy place where God’s presence dwells in a special way;
– faith in the one God whose glory no man can share.
Were the Jewish leaders unanimous in their position towards Jesus? The religious authorities in Jerusalem were not unanimous about what stance to take towards Jesus. But one thing is for sure. Some were vocal and aggressive in their conviction and in their attempts to eliminate him.
The Pharisees threatened to excommunicate his followers.
To those who feared that “everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation”, the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: “It is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”
The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus deserving of death as a blasphemer, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt, a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been accused of sedition.
The chief priests also threatened Pilate politically so that he would condemn Jesus to death.
Are the Jews collectively responsible for Jesus’ death? The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd.
Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders.
Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!”
Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. . . The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture.
Who, then, were the authors of Jesus’ passion and death on the Cross? “Sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.”
Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:
We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins.
Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts and hold him up to contempt.
And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him.
“Nor did demons crucify him; it is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.”
Jesus’ violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God’s plan of salvation.
Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God.
For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness and wickedness.
So when you see a figure of Jesus crucified, remember this. It was not nails or ropes that fixed him to the cross but LOVE. God’s love for us!
To end my homily, allow me again to ask this fundamental question:
Who, then, were the authors of Jesus’ passion and death on the Cross?
“Sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.” “It is you who have crucified him and crucify him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.”
A man of extraordinary religious insight.
A man who did die – a cruel death.
On this day we look at the cross, and we remember…
the betrayal of friendship and its consequences,
the casual cruelty of Roman authority and execution,
and how unreliable others proved to be in a crisis.
On this day may we also remember
that religious bigotry, cruelty and unreliability
are still a part of our everyday lives.
On this day, then, may we learn some new precepts for living…
do not avoid contact with suffering,
or close your eyes before suffering;
do not maintain anger or hatred;
do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest, or to impress people;
do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature