“We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
Over these most holy days of the Sacred Triduum we have many symbols and gestures which the Church asks us to reflect upon so that we may truly enter into these sacred mysteries of our faith:
Holy Thursday: The Washing of the Feet; The Last Supper / First Eucharist, Procession and adoration
Holy Saturday: the readings that reflect salvation history from creation to the Resurrection, the Lighting of the Easter Candle – Light overcoming the darkness
But, today, on Good Friday – the only day of the year that there is no celebration of the Mass – the symbol the Church points to is the Cross!
The Cross upon which out Lord died, which we will have the opportunity to come forward and venerate, is the great “Symbol” of our Faith.
The cross has the power to evoke certain emotions from us:
- Image of our Redemption and Salvation (authentic joy)
- Image of our Suffering Lord (sorrow and pain)
- Image of our Christian and Catholic Identity (pride)
The cross is a symbol for us that is steeped in the mystery of God’s love for each of us
John Crysostom says : Do not allow this mystery to pass without deep thought and reflection
I propose two reflections based on the Passion account that we hear today.
But the fact is, unlike every other Sunday, we didn’t just hear the Gospel proclaimed today, we all participated in it.
The first point is based one of the lines that the entire congregation shouts out – Crucify Him!
Pope Benedict XVI has explained that in this communal proclamation, we find those who are responsible for the death of Christ – Each of us!
When we look at the cross, we need to see our sins, our sinful tendencies, our selfishness and our self-centeredness – for this is the reason that Jesus died on the Cross
As the first reading reminds us:
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
He was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.
So when we look at the cross, another emotion that should be evoked in sorrow and repentance for our own sinfulness.
From the cross, our crucified Lord calls us to conversion – to turn away from our sinfulness and back to God.
But the cross is not just a symbol that should remind us of how sinful we can be – it is also most properly the symbol of our hope.
And this is my second point, that from the cross Jesus speaks his last words. And the very last thing that he says before his death is, “it is finished”
What does this mean? What is finished? It is the act of our Redemption, the establishment of the new Passover, the new covenant that he establishes between God and humanity. On the cross, Jesus stretches out his arms and shows us the depths of his love.
This is what we should see when we look at the cross – that God loves us each so much that he would endure death, even death on a cross!
Between these two points: our sinfulness and God’s perfect love for us, there is another point from today’s passion that provides us an interpretive key – the idea that Jesus Christ is King.
The reasoning that the Pharisees and high priests use to crucify Christ is his apparent claim to be King.
Pontius Pilate even asks him: Are you a King? He has a signed placed over his head on the cross – this is Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews – a sign which further upset the crowds.
Jesus Christ is the Lord and King of Heaven and Earth! But the question that we need to ask ourselves throughout this day in which we remember his death, but also as we come forward to kiss the cross upon which he died, we need to ask ourselves, Is Jesus Christ the Lord and King of my life?
We adore O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world!