Homily: What is “Good” about Good Friday?

April 14, 2017 – Good Friday

The following brief homily will be offered at the Good Friday Service this afternoon at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:

So…what is “good” about Good Friday?

When we pray the Creed at Mass each weekend, we say these words:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;

Consubstantial means “of the same substance” – Jesus is God. He is fully divine.

We also pray these words as part of the Creed:

For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

Incarnate means “in human form, embodied in flesh” – Jesus was man. He was fully human.

On Good Friday, we shine the light on Jesus as man. If you are anything like me, it is easier to wrap your mind around Jesus as God than it is Jesus as man. It is difficult for us to see Jesus as “like us” – even if it is “like us in all things but sin.”

However, by acknowledging His humanity we are better able to understand His suffering and appreciate His sacrifice.

On Good Friday, we focus on the passion of Christ. The word passion comes from the Latin “passio” – “suffering.”

Because Jesus was fully human, His suffering was real.

  • The agony in the garden was real. The request He made to His Father to “remove this cup” was real. Jesus prayed to avoid the suffering if possible, just like we would have.
  • The scourging at the pillar He experienced was real – as was the physical pain that came along with it. Each flesh-tearing swing inflicted real pain and suffering, just as it would have to us.
  • When He fell under the weight of the cross, it was because He could not physically take any more and collapsed, just like we would have.
  • Real nails were driven into the hands and feet of a real human being. A real spear was thrust into the side of a real human being. Jesus cried out in pain just as we would have.

Perhaps that’s why seeing the movie, The Passion of the Christ, for the first time was so shocking – it was raw and showed us that Jesus was fully human. It graphically showed us His suffering was real. 

On this Good Friday afternoon, we pause to reflect on the humanity of Jesus, and to remember the suffering He endured on our behalf. It was not a show put on by God to impress us, but the real suffering of one human being for the good of all human beings.

Later in the service, we will acknowledge that suffering, as well as show our gratitude, by venerating the cross – a simple symbol of the real suffering of Jesus on our behalf.

We recall the suffering and sorrow of Jesus today in order to more fully experience and embrace the unbridled joy of Easter Sunday, when we will celebrate His resurrection.

The transformation that will take place over these next three days – the transformation from suffering and sorrow to joy – is what allows us to call this day Good Friday.

 

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