April 2, 2021 – Good Friday
I will be delivering the following homily at today’s Good Friday services at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis:
From early on in our catechesis, we have been taught that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. While I accept that as a mystery of my faith, I struggle to understand it. Specifically, I struggle to relate to the humanity of Jesus.
Jesus was human, so that means he was like me. Scripture is full of stories of Jesus saying profound and beautiful things. He healed the lame, brought sight to the blind, fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and some fish; he performed miracle after miracle. I certainly see the divinity of Jesus, but how is he like me?
Our difficulty in relating to the humanity of Jesus may come from the fact that scripture tells us very little about him prior to his work in public ministry, when his divinity was at the forefront. Perhaps if we had more stories of Jesus growing up, we might be better able to relate to his humanity.
The one story we get of young Jesus is one in which he is left behind in Jerusalem following the Passover festival and his parents search frantically for him for three days. I get a glimpse of his humanity because I can relate to a little boy wandering off from his parents. However, I know this: If I had wandered away and been lost for three days, I guarantee you my parents would NOT have found me in a temple talking theology with Jewish scholars. So again, tough to relate.
However, in the various readings of the passion and death of Jesus, we witness a shared humanity with Jesus.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he agonized over what was about to happen. He even asked God to let the cup pass from him if possible. We can hear the agony in his voice. I can relate to that – I have been frightened of what was to come and I have begged God to make it go away.
Jesus found his friends sleeping when he had asked them to stay awake and pray with him. We can hear the frustration in his voice. I can relate to that – I have been frustrated at times when friends have let me down.
When Jesus was scourged, carried the cross, and had nails driven into his hands and feet, he experienced REAL pain – HUMAN pain. We can hear the exhaustion in his voice and hear his cries of anguish. I can relate to that – not on the scale Jesus experienced, but I have been so tired I didn’t think I could take another step; I have experienced excruciating pain.
Finally, Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We can hear the despair in his voice. I can relate to that – I have felt abandoned by God at times. I have questioned him and wondered aloud why he has allowed terrible things to happen in our world, why I have failed to feel his presence in my life.
The readings from this week allow us to truly experience the humanity of Jesus; we draw closer to him and can better relate to him.
Here’s the beautiful part: Just when we feel closest to Jesus, and can relate to him most fully, he rises from the dead. His agony, frustration, exhaustion, pain, anguish, and despair – his humanity – lead to his resurrection.
This is why we use the phrase “our hope in the resurrection.” Jesus, at his most human, offers us HOPE. If rising from the dead and experiencing eternal life can happen for Jesus, who was fully human, it can happen for us, too!
There is hope for us; our own frustration, pain and despair – if we are willing to offer it up to God – can lead us to new life.
Hope in the resurrection; I can relate to that.
Here is the video version of the homily: