Theme: We Mourn NOT for Christ but for our sins
Dearly Beloved, at the beginning of this service, the deacon and I lay on the floor for a brief moment. It was not a gesture of mourning but to fall down in absolute wonder and fear and submission before the revelation of the glory of God in the mystery of the cross. We gather today, not to pretend for a while, as if we do not know that Jesus is risen from the dead. No, we experience in the course of this very liturgy that the Lord’s cross, the Lord’s death, is already our victory and life. His death is our triumph, for by His suffering He has given meaning and hope to our suffering and by dying He has destroyed death for us. And we who remember His death today, do so precisely because we know He has risen. The story of Jesus’ death is a constitutive part of the announcement of resurrection. The one who is risen is the one and same who was Crucified.
Friends, the prophet Isaiah in the first reading rightly puts it “who would have believed what we have heard”? That God will allow His only Son to descend to the low levels of humans. Hoping, he will teach us how to regain Paradise which we lost as a result of our disobedience. We were not just ungrateful, but we treated him badly. At the end of the day, this is how the prophet described him ‘Disfigured’, ‘without majesty, without beauty’, ‘no looks to attract our eyes’, ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief’. He continues …..
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins; …
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter … why you may ask again – the prophet continues
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all…. And what was his motivation?
If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Beloved, in this prophesy of Isaiah, he makes it very clear, that if He undergoes all those sufferings and death, he will see his descendants for eternity.
The question is, do you also have the same desire of seeing Him for eternity? We are sad and sorrowful today because we have not done enough in response to indicate that we want the same. We continue to indulge in the very things that sent him to the cross. We still find it difficult to forgive those who hurt us, we still find it difficult to share what we have with those less privileged. We still want to do what makes us feel good regardless of what God commands. What kind of discomfort, pain, disappointment or humiliation are you also willing to undergo with the aim of seeing him for eternity. What is your cross?
Friends, the cross this day is the center of our worship, and for good reason: because we embrace in a profound way its meaning, its power, and even its necessity. In a few minutes we will venerate it with a kiss or some other act of reverence—expressing in some small way that this instrument of suffering was also the key that unlocked for us our salvation. The cross, we affirm, was a means to an end, not an end itself. In other words, Good Friday does not stand by itself. Easter comes after Good Friday.
Beloved, whatever your cross is today, Christ invites you to unite it with His. For, in the shadow of the cross, a new light is also cast on the reality of suffering and death. No longer does death bring final oblivion, but rather it is the final door through which we must pass into eternity. Christ, by his suffering and death has given meaning to all that we have to go through in this life so as to enter into eternal life. And that is our conviction and joy today. Hope this resonates with you and all you may be going through. God bless you.