HOMILY PREACHED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE COMMEMORATION OF THE LORD’S PASSION AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, FRIDAY 21 MARCH 2008 AT 3PM.
“My song is love unknown, my Saviour’s love to me.
Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I that for my sake
my Lord should take frail flesh and die?”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
These words of Dean Samuel Crossman highlight the import and force of Good Friday. We have just heard the story of the death of our Saviour. We know that at his crucifixion and death the earth quaked, the veil of the temple was rent in two, tombs were opened.
By the momentous love of God, humanity would be saved and capable of entering heaven. By the gift of baptism, original sin would be taken away and the life of grace would begin and continue in souls of those who responded to it. So often in pondering the cross we can see its effect in our lives.
What is most powerful, however, is the way in which the limitless love of the Father from all time sought us out by sending his Son. He was not content to have his Son share our human nature and be a great teacher. It was the limitless and constant love of God that had sought humanity out and which now seeks out our weakness and inconstancy to invite us to faith, perseverance and to the struggle of responding each day to the limitless ongoing love of God.
We know the weight of human wickedness, our pride which rises up against the holiness of God and the order of his universe. We call this Friday ‘Good’ because “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”. (John 3:16) That is unthinkable love, utterly unmerited, beyond all expectation. It is a love which invites our free response, our repenting of our sins and our taking up of the life of grace, not merely for our own personal salvation, but to be witnesses and apostles of that love and in our family, our work and our living in a community to witness to him. We might ponder how we can ever be worthy of such limitless love.
We can even ponder methods of overcoming our particular sins and weaknesses. In the end there is only one answer. It is to gaze constantly in prayer on the face of Christ, to look upon the crucified, to take strength from all that he did and to be drawn in magnetic love to give of ourselves, to pick ourselves up often time and time again, to live as he invited, so that ‘love one another as I have loved you’ will mean a commitment to goodness, to truth in our deeds and in our relationships, to faith and perseverance in our prayer, nourished by regular sharing in the Mass.
We must eat and drink the charity of God, so that God’s own charity shown today and in his resurrection, which hears, believes, hopes and endures may be the substance of our life and the renewal of our minds.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne