10 April 2020: Good Friday of the Passion of the Lord
A CHALLENGE TO CARRY OUR CROSSES
(A) The cross and the crucifix are meaningful symbols, as the dove symbolizes peace and the heart symbolizes love. First, the crucifix and the cross are the symbols of the loving and sacrificial offering of oneself for others. The whole universe is a revelation or a manifestation of God. We look into the sun and we see the energy of God. We look into the stars and see the infinity of God. We look at the atoms and the living organisms and we see the complexity of God. But when we look at the cross we see the face of God’s love. It is only in the cross that we see a love so great that God was willing to die for me. It is in the cross that we hear the statement, “no greater love is this, than a person who is willing to lay down his life for his friend.” and the cross tells us this love story.
Second, the cross is the symbol of the remission of our sins: The Bible says that when Jesus died he took all our sins to himself on the cross, and so he conquered sin and the devil’s power forever. Third, the cross is the symbol of humble self-emptying for others. It is the symbol of the cross-bearing Christ leading us in our life’s journey of pain and suffering, carrying his heavier cross and still encouraging us, strengthening us and supporting us. Fourth, the cross is the symbol of the risen Christ who promises us a crown of glory as a reward for our patient bearing of our daily crosses.
(B) The Cross always means pain. The true cross of Christ is the pain I suffer for others much more than the pain I suffer for myself. It is the sanctifying pain involved in sharing our blessings sacrificially with others. It is the pain involved in controlling our evil tendencies in an attempt to attain a higher degree of holiness. It is the pain involved in standing with Jesus, his ideas and ideals, and gladly following him even if that means scorn and humiliation from the rest of the world.
(C) Without cross-bearing there is no Christian discipleship. Jesus said: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” On Good Friday we should ask the question: How should we carry our crosses? We should not carry our crosses by cursing our fate, nor should we continue to protest as we carry the cross. We should carry our crosses like a loving wife who nurses her paralyzed husband or sick child, with sacrificial love and dedicated commitment. We need to draw strength and inspiration from Jesus Who walks ahead of us carrying his heavier cross while supporting us in carrying our crosses.
(D) We have to heal our inner wounds through the cross of Christ. We all need healing from those wounds to our character that we sustained even in our childhood days. The good news is that the cross of Christ can heal and undo even these early wounds to our character, because every moment of our life is present to God and hence, He can heal the wounds in our past. Part of this healing involves repenting of the sinful ways in which we have responded to those wounds. Forgiving those who hurt us is vital to such healing. Thus, through the cross of Christ, inner healing is accomplished in accord with the pattern of dying and rising with Christ.
(E) Suffering is increasing in this world today. We see all around the world how many are dying of the present pandemic of coronavirus, more children are dying of hunger, large number of people killed in earthquakes and other natural disasters, innocent people become the victims of terrorism, and many are killed in wars that are fought against terrorism. We all have to do everything possible to remove or to reduce this kind of innocent suffering. St. Mother Teresa once wrote, “Suffering in itself is nothing.” She also tells us “Do not be afraid to share in that joy of suffering with Jesus because He will never give us more suffering than we are able to bear.” She adds “suffering shared with Christ’s passion is a wonderful gift. Suffering, if it is accepted together, borne together, is a joy.”
Her goal was not to put an end to suffering but to help the sufferer find joy in it. The Monk Thomas Merton reminds us that “The Christian must not only accept suffering: the Christian must make it holy. Suffering can only be consecrated to God by one who believes that Jesus is not dead. And it is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.”
Within a short time, we will have the veneration of the Cross. It is a powerful reminder to each one of us of Christ’s words: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Together with St. Paul we must be able to say that “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Gal 2: 19-20) Let us venerate the Christ crucified for us on the Cross and offer our sufferings and ourselves to Christ.
May God bless you.
(Homily on Good Friday (April 10, 2020) by Fr. Emmanuel )
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