Homily of Good Friday

HOMILY OF GOOD FRIDAY
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 31:2 and 6.12-13.15-16.17 and 25, Heb. 4:14-16; 5: 7-9, John 18:1-19:42
Today is Good Friday. The celebration of the Passion of the Lord is divided into three parts, namely, Liturgy of the Word, the Adoration of the Holy Cross and Holy Communion. Today and tomorrow, by a most ancient tradition, the Church does not celebrate the Sacraments at all, except for Penance and the Anointing of the Sick. At the end of the celebration, all, after genuflecting to the Cross, depart in silence while as a Church, we continue to wait at the Lord's tomb in prayer and fasting, meditating on his Passion and Death and on his Descent into Hell and awaiting his Resurrection. Today and tomorrow, the Church abstains from the sacrifice of the Mass, with the sacred table left bare, until after the solemn vigil, that is the anticipation by night of the Resurrection, when the time comes for paschal joys, the abundance of which overflows to occupy fifty days.
The question is: why is this Friday called 'Good' Friday and not "very bad horrible no good awful Friday"? Who will be happy to hear that the day of his or her beloved father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter or friend's death is declared as a 'Good' day? I believe, nobody. The only day that might be declared a 'good' day is when a notorious evil person dies but even at that, who will be courageous enough to do the declaration? Have you ever seen where people publicly talk bad at funeral about a dead person no matter how bad the person was? The only courageous person who could do that is a mad person or a drunkard as we often watch in our movies. And such a person lacks the use of reason by human calculation. Why then did we refer the day of Jesus' death as 'good'?
In the history of humanity, it is only the day of Christ's death that was declared as 'good'. It is good because Christ, by His Death, "showed His great love for humanity, and purchased for us every blessing." Good, in this sense, means "holy," and indeed Good Friday is known as Holy and Great Friday. It is good because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations. It is good because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins. It is good because the last statement of Jesus Christ made it to be good: 'It is finished'.
Jesus did not say 'I am finished' as if announcing his death but 'It is finished'. 'It is finished' applied to: the work of redemption; the Mosaic covenant with its priesthood, temple and sacrifices; the curse of the law; sin (in the sense that it was all placed upon Christ - past, present and future); the prophecies and types concerning the Messiah's death; the old fallen creation (which was placed 'in Christ'). God's purposes are now centered on a 'new creation' in Christ.
This single word 'tetelestai' (that is 'It is finished') that Jesus spoke certainly has the meaning of completion (which is what it primarily means in the context of John 19:30) but it can also mean 'discharge a debt' or 'paid in full'. Scholars got more insight into the meaning of this expression a few years ago after some archaeologists dug up in the Holy Land a tax collector's office that was almost intact, with all the tax records and everything. There were two stacks of tax records and one of them had the word, tetelestai, on the top. In other words, "paid in full." These people did not owe anything anymore. So, when Jesus said "it is finished," what is it that finished? It is the debt we owe God by our sins. It has been paid in full.
The Jews of Jesus' time saw sin as a debt that they owed God, a debt that must somehow be repaid. Jesus used that kind of language and often spoke of sin as debt and forgiveness as a cancellation of debt. He told the parable of the unforgiving servant whom his master forgave the debt that he had no way of repaying but who went out and insisted on getting back the small debt that his fellow servant owed him. This was a way of teaching us that when we are forgiven by God, we must in turn forgive our neighbour. He taught us to pray "Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are indebted to us" which simply means "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us." Jesus clearly used the language of commerce to speak of the spiritual relationship between God and us and between us and our neighbour. So on the cross he says tetelestai "it is paid in full." Our sins have been completely forgiven. It is finished. So, how do we respond to this last testament of Jesus?
Our Response to this last testament of Jesus: Remember, it is not a promise, "Your sins will be forgiven," and it is not a conditional statement, "Your sins are forgiven if...." How do we respond to it? What do we do?
The first thing to do is to say " Amen... So be it." All you have to do is to believe that these words apply to you personally, no matter the gravity of the sin that you have been involved in. Your debt has been paid to the full and cancelled no matter how huge the amount you owe. All you have to do is to say "Thank you, Jesus" and learn to be grateful to Jesus all your life. That is why we come to church every Sunday and for some, every day. We come to church to perform the Eucharist which means "thanksgiving".
The second thing to do is to live life in Christ Jesus namely, life in the Spirit: vocation to beatitude, moral conscience, the virtues, social justice, life of grace, and life of love: love of God and love neighbour. If Jesus has been so loving and kind to you in such a big way, why can't you try to be loving and kind to others in the little things of everyday life. For instance, like Jesus Christ, you have to wash others' feet. Jesus says, ‘If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you. And as you do so, you must be conscious of the kind of water you use to wash their feet and the kind of towel you use to wipe their feet. Dirty and contaminated water and towel are certainly not the ideal. If we believe that Jesus has paid all the debt that we owe God, then we must see to it that we do not go about accumulating another debts. I trust you and I love you all.
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