Friday, April 14, 2017

Homily for Good Friday Year ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily for Good Friday Year ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

·         Isa 52: 13-53:12;Ps 31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25

·         Heb 4:14-16;5:7-9;John 18:1-19:42

The Glory of the Cross and the Goodness of Good the Friday!

On Palm Sunday we witnessed Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. That triumphant journey culminates in today’s events: the glory of the cross and the goodness of Good Friday. This makes us wonder what is really glorious, good, or redemptive about the cross we venerate on Good Friday!{goodness...}
Or, what is really good about Good Friday? What is good about the red vestment priest wear today? What is good about our altars left bare today, undecorated? I guess it’s the love that Christ loved us to the end, no matter the affliction; those sufferings and mockeries he endured on the stations of cross- since God his Father watches over him.

He said many prayers from that cross. One of them is "into your hands Lord I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). We see the goodness of Good Friday in this prayer. In it Christ teaches us how to rely totally on God in moments of trials. God can always, ironically turn things around in our lives no matter how worst we might think our condition is.
The goodness of Good Friday ( the sorrowful mysteries) is also revealed in the 1st reading (Isa 52:13-53:12), the 4th Song of the Suffering Servant of God. Even though the servant was spurned, beaten, insulted, rejected he did not open his mouth. It was our infirmities and sufferings that he endured. He was pierced for our offenses and crushed for our sins. On Good Friday Christ takes away our sins!

The preacher in the  2nd reading, the Letter to the Hebrews, is aware of this when he preaches “in the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death. Prayers like Psalm 22 " My God my God why have you abandon me." Prayers like today's responsorial Psalm 31 "into your hands Lord, I commend my spirit." And he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was he learned obedience from what he suffered, and when he was made perfect, when he was raised from the dead, he became source of eternal salvation.

This is why Good Friday is good. In SalusCruce (In the cross we venerate today is our salvation- cf. lives of the saints). On the cross Christ teaches us how to love,. On the cross Christ teaches us  how to hope. On the cross Christ teaches us  how to endure our personal crosses (poverty, loneliness, illnesses ,loss of our loved ones, etc.),. On the cross Christ teaches us how to forgive and how to take charge in whatever we do  to the end- be it in our marriages, family responsibilities, our studies, work, priestly or religious life. We are to take charge and endure to the end, as exemplified in John's passion narrative.

In that long passion narrative from the Gospel of John, which is full of irony, Jesus is in charge. Jesus is in control. He is in the driver's seat. He tells Judas Iscariot to do quickly what he came to do. He makes it clear to Pilate that he has no authority over him. And finally Jesus dies kingly and triumphantly. On his cross is inscribed in different languages(Hebrew, Greek and Latin), "Jesus the King of the Jews," to make today a universal and salvific Good Friday. And Christ the savior of the world!
 As a believer, faithlessness, hatred, despair, violent, mockery, insult, jealousy, attitude of indifference in the face of injustice, neglect of the poor should not have authority over us. But rather, love, faith, hope, justice and endurance that Christ has taught us today, in the face of our life’s challenges and vicissitudes.

Reflection Questions

1.    What would you identify as your crosses and how do you handle them in the light of today’s readings?

2.    How do you feel when you are unjustly or falsely accused in the light of the suffering servant of YHWH of today’s readings

3.    What does the crucifixes in your homes or churches reminds you of?

4.    What do you say to a member of you faith community that has just been mocked, betrayed and unjustly violated?

5.    Christ bore our sorrows and sins. In what ways have you bore the pains of your next door neighbor, or family member?