March 25, 2016

Good Fri

March 25, 2016:  Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

See about 2 dozen connections with today?
Legend below
Listen

  • Jesus Christ Superstar/ Lloyd Webber, Rice (or find Peter's Denial, Pilate and Christ, Trial before Pilate, and Crucifixion)
  • Finale, from Godspell/ Schwartz
Gestures speak louder than pictures and words. There are, in the Word of God we read, two gestures:  Jesus' foot washing (Jesus, "head man," serving others, even the least) and Judas going to Jesus' enemies for the 30 silver pieces.  Behind Judas were those who offered the money for Jesus to be handed over.
Here now there are also two gestures:  us together (children of the same God wanting to live together in peace), and the act of war in Brussels, behind which are arms dealers who want war.
Two gestures, the same:  Jesus washing feet, Judas selling Jesus; we together, and people buying weapons to wreck fraternity.  As I wash your feet now, let's make a gesture of brotherhood and say, “We have different cultures and religions but are brothers and sisters who want to live in peace.”
Each of us has a story.  Crosses and sorrows, but also an open heart wanting fraternity.  Pray that this brotherhood be contagious, that there be no money to purchase another's murder, that there always be goodness.
Papal preacher Fr. Cantalamessa's Good Friday homily:  Be reconciled to God

Be reconciled to God.  God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so we might become God's righteousness.  He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.”  Now is the acceptable time; now the day of salvation!  Paul’s call refers to personal reconciliation, now.  “The acceptable time, the day of salvation” for us is this Year of Mercy.


People are often alienated from faith because they have a distorted image of God.  What ideas and feelings arise in you when you say, "Your will be done’”?  People say it preparing for the worst, linking God's will to everything unpleasant, painful, and destructive of freedom and development, as if God were the enemy of joy and pleasure.  God is seen as Supreme Being, Omnipotent, asserting himself over us from the outside; no detail escapes him.  Breaking his law introduces a disorder that requires reparation we know we can't make; it causes fear of and even resentment against God.  It's from the pagan idea of God who intervenes with punishment to reestablish the order disrupted by evil.  Christians believe in God's mercy, but just to moderate the rigors of justice.  This year let's restore the true image of God who not only has mercy but is mercy.


“God is love.”  Only in the Trinity God is love without being mercy.  The Father necessarily loves the Son; he needs to in order to be Father.  The Son also necessarily loves the Father, though he does with freedom; he needs to love and be loved in order to be Son.  The same holds for the Spirit who is love as a person.  When God creates the world and people, his love becomes grace, a free concession, hesed, mercy.  Our sin doesn't change his love but causes it to become mercy as forgiveness, a suffering love because God suffers when his love is rejected. "I've reared sons, but they rebelled against me’.”  Parents' suffering from children’s rejection is one of the most intense.

What about God's justice?  Is it what gives each person their due, and distributes rewards and punishments according to their merits?  Though a time will come for that, when Paul speaks of God's justice having been manifested, he means he shows his justice by having mercy!  God is “just and justifying,” just to himself when he justifies us; he is love and mercy, so he demonstrates who he is when he shows mercy.  “God's righteousness” means what makes us righteous just as "God's salvation" means the way God saves us (Augustine).  God's righteousness makes believers acceptable to him, makes them just.  "When God's goodness and loving kindness appeared, he saved us... in virtue of his own mercy.”  "God, rich in mercy, out of his love for us, made us alive with Christ—by grace you have been saved."  God’s justice consists precisely in mercy!
What about the cross?  “What's wrong, evil,... must be dealt with and overcome. Only this counts as true mercy.  God's unconditional goodness is that he confronts evil himself because we can't" (Benedict XVI).  God was not satisfied with forgiving our sins; he took them upon himself and shouldered them, “becoming sin for us.”  “What pleased God wasn't Christ’s death but his will to die of his own accord” (Bernard).  Love, not death, saved us!  God's love reached us in death; Christ's death demonstrated God’s mercy.  He remains a friend to sinners to the end, dying like them and with them.
Mercy's opposite is vengeance, not justice.  Jesus opposed it to retaliation.  In forgiving us God renounces vengeance; he wants sinners to convert and live.  As much as we can hate, God's love is greater.  “Don't be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”  Vengeance infects everything and everybody.  Movie and video game stories are of revenge, as heroes' victory.  Most suffering (apart from natural disasters and illness) come from the desire for revenge.  Only mercy can save the world:  God's for us and ours for each other; it can save marriage and the family.
Something similar happens in marriage as in God’s relationship with us:  In the beginning, there was love, not mercy; mercy came only after sin.  So too in marriage, in the beginning there's love, not mercy, but after time together, spouses' limitations emerge, problems with health, finance, and children arise, and a joy-quenching routine sets in.  Only mercy can save a marriage, not just reciprocal forgiveness but spouses acting with “compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience.”  Mercy adds agape to eros, self-giving love to the love of need and desire.  As God “takes pity” on us, shouldn’t spouses take pity on each other, and shouldn't those who live in community take pity on one another?  Father, remove any desire for vengeance from the hearts of individuals, families, and nations, and make us fall in love with mercy, respond concretely, and experience the joy of being reconciled with you.
Read
  • Is 52:13-53:12  My servant shall be exalted.  There was no appearance to attract us to him, so marred was his look.  He was spurned and avoided, a man of suffering, but he bore our infirmities and sufferings.  By his stripes we were healed.  We had gone astray, but the Lord laid our guilt upon him.  He submitted like a lamb led to slaughter.  He was taken away, cut off from the land of the living, buried with evildoers though he had done no wrong.  God's will shall be accomplished through him.  He shall take away the sins of many and win pardon for their offenses.
    We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, for by your holy cross you redeemed the world (Animate)
  • Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25   "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."  I'm a laughingstock, forgotten, broken; people flee from me.  But I trust you, Lord; rescue me from my enemies.  You will redeem me.
  • Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9  Our great high priest, Jesus, Son of God, can sympathize with our weaknesses; he was tested in every way.  Approach the throne; receive mercy, grace, and help.  Jesus offered prayers to the one who could save him and was heard.  He learned obedience from suffering, then became the source of salvation.
  • Jn 18:1-19:42  Passion according to John:   (If you really want it distilled to a few paragraphs, look here.)
              Hey, what about the Annunciation?
              Yes, we usually celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord on March 25, (exactly nine months before Christmas :-), but Good Friday trumps it.  So does Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday, and the other seven days of the Easter Octave through Divine Mercy Sunday, the Second Sunday of Easter.  But solemnities, such as the Annunciation, won't be skipped, so watch for it Monday, April 4!
              Reflect
                  Jesus the Homeless, crucified/ Schmalz
                • Creighton:  After Isaiah's Suffering Servant song and Paul's hymn of Christ’s obedience unto death comes he Passion according to John, where Jesus' final hours are pictured as his finest.  He conforms to his Father's will and love and gratefully accepts his identity. Jesus on the Cross is the sacramentalization of who he was and is; he says and does it.  Jesus is stripped of his clothing but not his dignity. His throne is eternal.  He doesn't avoid his name and message.  Every action of Jesus' public life revealed his true self.  At the cross, he changes the shame of sin into the honor of being in God's family, and he longs for peace and reconciliation between God and creation.  The cross displays God's interior and external life.  When we receive Communion, we receive his thirst for us and are encouraged and empowered to continue his life within ours.
                • One Bread, One Body:  "The terrible face of love":  Jesus was executed in our place.  If we realized the greatness of our sins against God and the greatness of Jesus' salvation, we'd love Jesus completely, repent completely, worship him, thank him, and be willing to do anything for him....
                • DailyScripture.net:  "It is finished":  The cross brings us face to face with Jesus' suffering.  He was alone, deserted by his disciples, and suffered an agonizing and humiliating death, crucified for his claim to be King.  The Jews wanted a king to free them from foreign domination; they didn't understand Jesus came to conquer hearts for an imperishable kingdom.  "It is finished!" expresses triumph, not defeat.  Jesus gave up his spirit knowing the battle was won. "As [those at the cross] were looking on, so too we gaze on his wounds, see his blood as he dies, see the price he offered, touch the scars of his resurrection.  He bows his head, as if to kiss you.  His heart is bared in love to you, his arms extended to embrace you, his body displayed for your redemption.  How great these things!  Weigh them in your mind:  as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so may he now be fixed in every part of your soul" (Augustine).  In the cross we see Jesus' triumph over sin, Satan, and death. 
                Ecce Homo/ Mostaert
                "God hung from a cross, the sun was made dark then flamed out; creation mourned with its creator.  The temple veil rent, blood and water flowed from his side: the one as from a man, the other as from what was above man; earth shaken, rocks shattered, the dead risen to bear witness to the Resurrection.  Yet nothing that happened can compare to the miracle of my salvation.  Drops of blood renew the world and bind us together" (Gregory Nazianzen, paraphrased).
                "The cross is the door to heaven, the key to paradise, the devil's downfall, our uplifting, the consolation of our imprisonment, the prize for our freedom"  (Rupert of Deutz)  The cross is the safeguard of our faith, the assurance of our hope, the throne of love, the sign of God's mercy, and the proof of forgiveness; by it Christ pardoned us and set us free from sin. The cross is the way to peace, joy, righteousness, and victory over sin, corruption, fear, defeat, despair, and death.
                Dress legend
                • Red striped shirt:  "by his stripes we were healed" (1st reading); color of day
                • 'Pierced hearts' suspenders:  he was pierced for our offenses (1st reading); Jesus' love to the end
                • 'Sheep', 'lamb' tie bars:  "We had all gone astray like sheep"; "Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep before shearers, he was silent" (1st reading)
                • 'Hand' tie pin:  "Into your hands I commend my spirit" (psalm); Jesus 'handed' over his spirit (gospel)
                • 'Sword' pin:  Peter drew his sword and cut off high priest slave's ear (gospel)
                • 'Rooster' pin:  the cock crowed after Peter's denials (gospel)
                • 'Stone' tie pin:  "Pilate seated Jesus at the place called Stone Pavement, Gabbatha"; Golgotha ("Stone Pavement") (gospel)
                • Tie with crowns:  "Are you the King of the Jews?"; "My kingdom does not belong to this world"; they placed a crown of thorns; inscription "Jesus the Nazorean, King of the Jews" (gospel)
                • 'Playing card' tie bar:  They cast lots for his clothes (gospel)
                • '?' tie pin:  questions to Peter, Jews, and Jesus from soldiers, gatekeeper, slaves/guards, Annas, Caiaphas, and Pilate (gospel)
                • 'Wood' tie pin:  wood of the cross (gospel)
                • 'Mary' pin:  Mary stood by the cross; “Woman, behold, your son.” / “Behold, your mother.” (gospel)
                • 'Blood drop' pin:  Blood and water flowed from Jesus' side (gospel)
                • 'Cross' pin:  "Crucify him!"