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Doctrines & Morals
 
 
 
Homilies/Reflections

What have I done
By FR JULIUS OLAITAN

March 30, 2018

 

GOOD FRIDAY

 

It is Finished…

 

Dear friends in Christ, the journey has reached Calvary—the place of the Skull, I think it is now a time to pause for a while and look back at the route that has led us here. Why are we on this hill? What have we come here to witness? Why should we be here? Look all round you, see the cruelty of the soldiers who jeered at him, as he fell and as his strength was waning. Look at the women weeping and unable to look at his shredded skin; come with Mary the mother to the foot of the Cross. See as she stands as if to take his place. The Pharisees, the scribes and the elders are happy to see him dead. Why should the just suffer so much cruelty? Lord have mercy!

 

First Reading (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) In this fourth song of the suffering servant, we are told that in spite of the difficulties and the challenges of his mission, he will succeed, “My servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.” Though innocent, the servant accepts his pains and suffering for the sake of others and he intercedes for them. Something beyond belief but the end is a royal glory. This suffering is seen as the will of the Lord to bruise him. He shall have his grave with the wicked and with a rich man. He makes himself an offering for sin and for that the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. 

 

Second Reading (Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9) The early Christians who witnessed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD with its rituals and priesthood, realised that Jesus is their true high priest, by the sacrifice of himself on Calvary, which has been crowned with the glory of the resurrection.

The gaze here is directed towards Jesus: He is the Supreme high priest who has gone through to the holy of holies. Not the one made by human hands in the temple in Jerusalem but to the highest heaven. The faithful can approach him with confidence. He shared our humanity, sufferings and silent tears, he feels our weakness. He therefore becomes the source of eternal salvation for all who believe in him.

 

Passion Narrative (John 18: 1-19:42)

John sees Jesus as already triumphant in his suffering and death. His raising on the Cross is exaltation and glorification. His kingship emerges in the dialogue with Pilate and placed on the Cross INRI. His divinity in his address to the soldiers – I AM HE. He willingly gave himself up hence he said, “You would have no power over me except it had been given to you from above.” His death on the Cross at the same time the lambs were slain in the Temple, suggests he is the true lamb of the Passover.

The temple sacrifice in Jerusalem is a sacrificial cult that required the sacrifice of lambs daily. This would have taken place between 2.30 and 3.30 pm. This sacrifice of an innocent lamb had been taken up in the writing of the prophets to describe their own sufferings too, particularly Jeremiah and Isaiah. The early Christians saw the fulfilment of these prophesies in Christ.

John portrays Jesus as this innocent lamb whose blood is split at the time of the sacrifice in the Temple, on the day of preparation for the Passover when the blood of the animals sacrificed in the temple flows to the Kedron valley.(Jn 19:14f)

In the year of the crucifixion (30 AD Friday April 7) about 18,000 lambs would have been sacrificed. Because of the large numbers, there would have been three sessions. As each person came forward to kill his lamb, the blood would have been collected by the priest in a bowl and poured forth at the base of the altar. The owner will then take home, the part that belongs to him, to be shared with his family and friends. The streets of Jerusalem would have been filled at this time with those bearing the carcasses of the slain animals home. It was in the midst of this that Jesus was taken on a dreadful journey to Calvary. His one sacrifice of himself replaces the millions of animals that would have had to be slain year in and year out. What an exchange for you and for me?

Can the Friday be called good……? Perhaps for us it is. 2000 years ago it was a horrible day, a black Friday. A day that saw the Apostles hiding themselves away in disbelief. A day the Mother of God got in exchange for her only Son, a slain lamb, that cannot be eating. How much value do you place on this day? What have you to offer him?

Soon we will begin to sing the REPROACHES

  • Popule meus, qui feci tibi? My people, what have I done to you?
  • It is the voice of the Lord himself asking you
  • Despite all I have done for you, why do you pay me back this way?

The people’s response can only be a cry for mercy

  • Sanctus immortalis Miserere nobis, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us

Let us Pray: Lord, thank you for the sacrifice of your life. Make me worthy of you. Amen. 


 
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