Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, April 19
Jesus Suffered the Humiliating and Agonizing Death of the Cross, So That You and I Might Share in Its Ultimate Glory, So That You and I Might Have Life and Have It to The Fullest.
“Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” – words we read today from the Letter to the Hebrews.
We are now at the end of our Lenten journey as we enter into our Lord’s Passion and Death. We become witnesses to the spotless “lamb led to the slaughter”, as is written in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah – so that, with the help of His grace, you and I might have a share in our Lord’s own Divinity, becoming co-heirs with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom.
As we reflect upon our Readings for today, the theme which always stands out on this most solemn and holy occasion is God’s indescribable and profound Love which He has for you and me, as shown through the sufferings borne by His Only-Begotten Son.
And suffering is one thing many of us have in common with our Lord. I am sure there are many who are reading this meditation who have endured suffering in one form or another, and I am personally no exception to this. There is suffering occurring even in my own family and within myself as I write this meditation.
So how do you and I view suffering? How do we deal with it? How do we accept it? A typical day for many of us includes some form of suffering – it may be extreme fatigue when we wake up or when we come home from work, bodily aches and pains due to the normal aging process, maybe heartache over a wayward child or a broken relationship, possibly grief over someone we love who is no longer with us. The list of different types of sufferings seems endless.
What we do know about suffering is that we are not alone in it. Even Christ, who is the Eternal Word made flesh, accepted suffering in His Life, even to the point of His own death, death on a Cross.
Even though Scripture does not give us any details, common sense tells us that our Blessed Mother must have endured grief with the loss of her parents and the loss of her spouse, Saint Joseph. Scripture does tell us that she stood at the foot of the Cross when her Divine Son died. And we are reminded of the words of Simeon to Mary, when she and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple when He was only six weeks old, “And you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
And as their family life continued along life’s journey, together with her spouse and the Infant Jesus, Mary had to flee to Egypt, and of course the story of the emotional suffering which she and Saint Joseph endured over losing and then finding their Son in the Temple – a form of suffering which only parents could truly understand. We can see that even the Holy Family was not exempt from the human misfortunes of suffering.
The Sacred Scriptures are full of stories about human suffering, beginning so long ago when our first parents were exiled from the Garden of Eden.
Yet, it was not God’s original plan that His children suffer; it was not a part of His original plan that we be subjected to the grief which accompanies death. But due to the disobedience of our first parents, sin and suffering entered into the world, and the intimate and loving relationship which Adam and Eve enjoyed with God in the beginning was sadly fractured.
But in God’s unfathomable Love which He holds for each of us, He knew from all eternity that He would send His Son to repair our broken relationship with Him. And we read in John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
And from the very moment of that first fall, the Eternal Father promised to send a Savior who would redeem us and reconcile us once again to His Love.
In our First Reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we now come to the last and the most solemn of the four “Servant-of-the-Lord” oracles, the other three which we read on Monday through Wednesday of this week. What we are presented with, as described by God the Father Himself, is an extraordinary description of the sinless Servant, who, by His voluntary suffering, atones for the sins of His people and redeems them. In Isaiah, we read –
“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; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.”
And because he fulfilled the Divine will by suffering for the sins of all mankind, the Servant will be rewarded by God – “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.”
Only in Jesus Christ is this prophecy perfectly fulfilled!
And our psalmist in today’s Responsorial speaks the mind of this sinless and suffering Servant – “In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice deliver me…Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God.”
And it is with this verse from today’s psalm, “Into your hands I commend my spirit” that Jesus, the suffering Servant, breathed His last and gave up His Spirit.
In today’s Second Reading, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that you and I are not alone in our suffering, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”
It is Jesus, Himself, who truly understands the human condition. In His Divine Personhood, His human Nature was filled with fear in the Garden of Gethsemane; He Himself felt the pain of being tortured while being scourged; He Himself felt the pangs of death while hanging from His Cross.
Yet, he accepted His suffering; He embraced His anguish – because of the profound and indescribable Love which He has for each and every one of us.
In today’s account of our Lord’s Passion and Death in John’s Gospel, we have heard these words read to us on every Good Friday for many years. And yet, for as many times as we have heard them, when we mentally and emotionally place ourselves in this scene with Jesus, and witness His suffering and death, we are filled with such sadness as to all He endured – all out of Infinite Love, not only for us, but also for all those who persecuted Him, for all those who cried out “Crucify him, crucify him!”
It was not God’s original plan that His Son should suffer and die like this; yet, because of sin, this was how God chose to show His Love; this was how God chose to redeem us to Himself. It was through this ultimate Sacrifice of His Only-Begotten Son that we have been reconciled to the Father for all the sins of fallen mankind for all ages.
It was through sin that our relationship with the Eternal Father was ruptured. It was through the suffering and the sacrifice of the unblemished Lamb that we have been reconciled and our relationship mended – as our Second Reading tells us, “…he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Jesus willingly accepted His suffering and the humiliating and agonizing death of the Cross, so that you and I might share in its ultimate glory – so that you and I might have life and have it to the fullest.
In our own sufferings, let us place ourselves at the foot of the Cross with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. So that, in our personal offerings – joined with the offerings of Christ through His Cross – we may help those whom we love and hold dear to our hearts, as well as all those who have turned their backs to Christ and have rejected His Love. They are those who truly need our offerings in this world as an act of selfless love on our part, imitating the selfless Love of the unblemished Lamb, the sinless Servant, who gave His life for you and me.
“In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
We are truly blessed to be the recipients of such Love!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:8-9)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- “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; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
- “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.” (Isaiah 53:10bc)
- “In you, LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice deliver me…Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, LORD, faithful God.” (Psalm 31:2, 6)
- “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
- “For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)
- “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)
- “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3)
- “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
Prayer for the Day
“Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
“O Good Jesus, hear me;
Within Your wounds hide me;
separated from You, let me never be;
From the evil one, protect me;
At the hour of my death, call me;
And close to You, bid me.
“That with Your saints,The Anima Christi (14th century prayer)
I may praise You forever and ever. Amen.”