The Bishops Homily – Good Friday 2017

Good Friday 2017
Celebrating the Lord’s Passion
Is. 52:13-53:12
Heb. 4:14-16; 5; 7-9
Jn. 18: 1-19; 42

INTRODUCTION: We are exceptionally good at seeing the fault in others but we are exceptionally adept at ignoring it in ourselves. The book “I’m OK; You’re OK” and the line from a song: “I am beautiful in every single way and your words can’t get me down” are the best representative of “the culture of exculpation.” Self-invention and self-assertion are winning in the cultural debate: who are you to tell me? Nothing wrong with me! Effectively such mindset drags the self down, dulling the pain of self-consciousness. In turn we make God of ourselves, pretending to be absolute, flawless, impervious to criticism.

(1) John in the Prologue to his Gospel calls Jesus “the Light of the world. . . The Light that shines in darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1: 4-5) In John’s version of the Passion, during Jesus’ conversation with Pilate about his kingship, Jesus admits his being king and his mission is “to bear witness to the truth.” Light is wonderful in the measure that it enlightens and illuminates. However. It can also be disconcerting. The full glare of the sun reveals every flaw and imperfection. When we invite Jesus into our life, we are inviting the Light into our life. Wonderful! Illuminating! Yes, but this illumination can also be frightening because Jesus will shine his light over every nook and corner of our life. When Jesus comes into your life, he wants to dominate your life and wants to enter into every corner of your life. The unpleasant comes out clear in one’s “secretly moral inventory.”

(2) Our gathering tonight is “a celebration” of the Lord’s Passion? Even in its surrealist depiction of the Passion by Mel Gibson? What is there to celebrate with the Passion? The Cross used to be an instrument of Roman torture. We are meant to see in the Cross and his Passion not only its violent image but the ugliness of the various faces of our human dysfunctions. This panoply of all sorts of human dysfunctions brought Jesus to the Cross. In the light of Jesus’ Passion, all the vermin of sin is revealed so that the Cross is God’s judgement on the world. So in the light of the Cross of Jesus, one can no longer say of himself “I’m OK; You’re OK!” As Peter said plainly to the Jews: “The Author of Life came and you killed him!”

(3) Dante saw in his life, helped by St. Lucy, that the only way up is down. When we live in convenient darkness, unaware of our sins, we will never make spiritual progress. We need the Light, however painful it is. Once that Light reveals to us our sins and dysfunctions, then we can begin to rise! St. Paul in Phil. 2: 7-11 recognized this double movement of the Lord’s Passion: his going down (kenosis; self-emptying) . . . And his going up (exaltation). What we discover in the Cross of Jesus is our own sins but we also meet the Divine Mercy of the Redeemer who has taken our own sin upon himself in order to swallow it up. We have found in the Cross the way down and the way up. That is why we don’t celebrate the Lord’s Passion in sorrow and mourning as one who have no hope but in quiet and silent contrition for our sins trusting in God’s forgiveness and his abundant mercy. Rather “We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life and our resurrection; through him we are saved and made free. (Gal. 6: 14)

CONCLUSION: Stay at that Cross of Jesus! Let it shed light in the dark corners in you and at the same time allow yourself to be touched by the enduring Love of the Divine Mercy!

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches

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