Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday 2006

Since the last one had some benefit, I thought you might find tonight's homily equally useful. Enjoy!

Good Friday Homily
April 14, 2006
Sacred Heart, Alva

We come tonight to the foot of hardest things we experience: humiliation, futility, sin, suffering, and death. We walk the hard pack road and just when we think it will be only light and happiness, filled with ease of travel, we fall into the pit. Tonight, we stand in the light of sacrifice realized.

On Sunday, the Church’s liturgy drew us to the Cross to bask in the victory of God. This sacrifice merits a new covenant, a new alliance between God and man. We saw the hints of that last night in the institution of the Holy Eucharist and of the Holy Priesthood. Primarily, in both reflections, we are focused upon what God is doing, but this is an alliance. An alliance requires two parties: we have considered how God looks at this. We now need to see how Christ restores fallen humanity.

It was fashionable at one time to rail about the depravity of sin. I find depravity hard to make real given that the 20th century specialized in depravity. You can count rank after rank of offenses against the human person, represented in its worse form by the stacks of corpses, piled up like cordwood, by the works of the culture of death. So depravity is not the way to go. To find salvation we must recognize the foulness of sin. To recognize of the foulness of sin requires gazing deeply into the wounds of the Savior. Etched in tattoos of agony and remorse, the innocent flesh speaks far more eloquently of the real depravity of my sin.

Along the way of the Cross, there are five stages we must rest and reflect at. In Christ’s agony in the garden, we see the anguish sin ought to cause. In the Scourging of the Pillar, where the Flesh of Christ is whipped, we see the abasement sin elicits. In the Crowning of Thorns, we see the humiliation sin brings. In Christ carrying His Cross, we see the burden sin creates. In the Death of Our Lord, the saddest truth comes to the fore: to live in sin is to live in the shallows of death. To live mired in sin is to exist as no better than a zombie, shambling and croaking, grasping with ragged claws for something, anything, which will bestow life beyond this pale simulation.

There is only one motive I can derive for this work of Christ: love. He must love us, poor things. He must see a remnant of the image He planted within us at our creation and he will not abide its remaining marred by sin, suffering, and death. Christ preaches the most eloquent of homilies about our dignity and our depravity with satiny ribbons of half-dried blood and gasping breaths. In love then He plunges His hands to perform the most radical heart surgery: He takes away our leaden hearts and replaces it with His. His pierced side calls to us – Let our two hearts be melded in the marital bliss of the Church so they may beat as one.

To change from a life of sin to a life of grace requires something we don’t possess of our own power, namely sanctifying grace. However, once sanctifying grace has been bestowed, and then we are obliged to live by that grace. The wounded side of Christ issues forth blood and water -- Signs of the Power of Baptism and Holy Communion. At its most essential, that is the fount of living water Christ had promised the woman at the well, the water of grace flowing from his wounded side. After the reception of the Grace of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, we ought to live by grace and by adherence to the moral life which keeps us in God’s good graces in the same way our body lusts for the air it breathes.

Let us pray: Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.

Jesus and Mary, I love you! Save souls!

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