Liturgy of the Passion celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Friday, 14 April 2017 at 3pm

Our world has changed. Because of the onslaught of evil in the Middle East and elsewhere our grasp on life seems much more fragile. Our priorities have altered. Our search for truth and life continues. Above all, at this time our Saviour comes to bring us hope.

Jesus is nailed to the cross. The whole of his life is directed towards this supreme moment. Gasping and exhausted, he has barely managed to get to the top of that hill. He is stretched out on the ground; the nails pierce his palms and his torn flesh. He is hoisted onto the vertical shaft fixed in the ground.

Though the Lord is firmly nailed to the cross, he has waited for many years, and this day he is to fulfil his desire to redeem all people. What until now has been an instrument of dishonour has been converted into the tree of life and for us the stairway of glory.

He saw how the cross was to be loved and to be adored because he was going to die on it. He saw the witness of saints and others, who for love and in defence of the truth, were to suffer a similar martyrdom. He saw the tears and love of his friends at the foot of the cross, the triumphs and victories Christians would achieve under the standard of the cross. He saw the great miracles, which with the sign of the cross would be performed throughout the world. He saw so many people who were going to be saints because they would know how to die like him, overcoming sin.

Saint Augustine asks, “Why so much suffering?” He replies, “Everything Jesus suffered was the price of our ransom.” The executioners have ruthlessly carried out the sentence. Our Lord with infinite meekness has let them have their way. He did not need to undertake so much torment. He could have avoided the trials and humiliations, but he wanted to suffer all this for you and for me. And are we not going to respond?

The challenge of the cross, of so much love limitlessly and freely given, is to give the world hope. For nations to realise that peace and justice are possible if we value it highly enough and work for it. For Catholics to realise that in the cross and in the Mass are the centre of our faith, the means by which life streams from the cross, inviting us to persevere, to be faithful in recognising him as our Saviour and living in union with him.

For the leaders of society to realise that power is given only that service might be shown. For you and me to realise that our gifts are given to be used in service of others, that like John the Baptist we will become less and less, because the Lord with his infinite love and hope has taken possession of us.

Very likely there will be times when alone in front of a crucifix you find tears coming to your eyes. Do not try to hold them back, but try to ensure that those tears give rise to a resolution. Today the Lord invites us to sacramental reconciliation, to newness of life, for today and everyday.

His promise is one of hope. When like one of the thieves we turn to Jesus and say: ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom’, his reply to us is an invitation and a challenge to follow him: ‘This day you will be with me in paradise.’

“Jesus Christ wished to submit himself fully conscious, totally free and with a sensitive heart. No one has ever made up for sin like him, for he was purity itself.” (Romano Guardini: Our Lord)

We receive the fruits of the love of Jesus on the cross. Only our not wanting, or keeping only for today, can waste for us the passion of Christ. This Good Friday gives us the power humbly to bring our weakness and brokenness to Jesus and to receive a strength that can change and enrich our world. Our ability to give ourselves totally like him is the challenge to refashion our world; our confidence that his grace and our efforts can remake our lives and those of others. First we bring our weakness and brokenness to the cross, knowing that in him is life, salvation and hope for us, our world and all those who love.

“We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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