Good Friday – Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
March 30, 2018
Isaiah 52:13 — 53:12
Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1 — 19:42
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
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.
If we reflect upon the suffering and death of Jesus in today’s readings and Passion of Christ, we can see Jesus willingly accepting the sufferings and death on the Cross. Though Jesus the Son of God and had the power to resist the suffering and death, he obeys the Will of the Father. Father loved the World so much that he gave his only beloved Son to die for the whole World so that the entire Earth may not perish in it’s Curse of Sin. Jesus suffers in human form or in flesh and obeys God and becomes a perfect man. By looking at his perfection , God the Father gives him the title of the Saviour by resurrecting him on the third day and ascending him to Heaven to be seated at the right hand of God to intercede for the whole World until the Salvation is complete on this Earth. Jesus is the plan of God but this plan was not accomplished not in only in divine interference but in a perfect human flesh. Thus Jesus becomes a perfect man by humbling himself to Father’s Will and a source of grace to every one who unites their Will to his Will.
Man cannot achieve the Salvation from the Evil of Sin or from their human Will by their Works alone but require a support function to overcome the Evil, flesh
and the World. We see many Wise men, Philosophers, Scientists, atheists, ways of life have tried their level best to attain the truth but miserably failed due to the lack of truth in their theories , beliefs and Works itself. Man is selfish and sinful and every action emerging from the Human carries the sinful nature. Though it may look like good work somewhere in the background there is a thought of selfishness and self-Glory at work in that action. Man requires the support function of God the Father who is Jesus and his grace to be good and acceptable by God as perfect humans because Jesus is the only human who totally obeyed God the Father and died for the sins of the Whole World. Jesus has been tested by the World, Evil and God himself but in all his tests he was 100% obedient to the Will of his Father and to the plan of salvation.
Suffering is the way of obedience or the way of discipline in our life. When we unite our Will in to the Will of Jesus we become one united to his Spirit so we no longer doing our Will but the Will of Jesus and Father himself. So, the Human sufferings are the invitation to do the Will of the Father. We can accept the human suffering from the hands of God and unite with him or run away from them. If we run away from the sufferings we miss the way to Heaven itself. It is like a man on his journey walking on a broad way and suddenly the Broadway narrows in to a alleyway where no further cars or motors can go, if we avoid the alleyway and find some other Worldly or human or Evil ways to carry on our journey, we miss the real way to reach our destination and wonder like a no mad Wanderer in our life. These kinds of people just live for their survival and convenience and no definite ethics or goals in their life.
Some ways of life embrace sufferings to do the Will of God throughout their life by renouncing the World, flesh & Evil but God’s Salvation completes on this Earth and not by following only Jesus in isolation , the salvation does not complete in Jesus himself but on the entire earth. Jesus is the Head and Source of that Fire which must burn all vices and darkness of this World and then the Kingdom of God will be established on this Earth. Jesus lived in a normal society with good and Evil and proclaimed gospel, lived without Sin, made miracles, condemned to death, suffered and died like a Champion. We must cooperate with Jesus who is waiting to Complete the Salvation on this Earth. He is inviting me and you through the Way of Cross to be united to his Will and be a perfect man and Woman for Christ. We must face the real life of the Gospel in our life . The persecutions, sufferings , poverty, sickness are part and parcel of following Christ but there is much more than these things the grace and Peace of God the Holy spirit bestowed upon us while we live on this Earth and be contented or satisfied by living Complete life of Peace and love on this Earth.
Royal Road to Holiness – Imitation of Christ
There will always be many who love Christ’s heavenly kingdom, but few who will bear his cross. Many are eager to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him.
Many love Christ as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless him as long as they receive some comfort from him. But if Jesus hides himself and leaves them for a while, they either start complaining or become dejected. Those, on the contrary, who love him for his own sake and not for any comfort of their own, praise him both in trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if Jesus should never comfort them, they would continue to praise and thank him. What power there is in a pure love for Jesus – love that is free from all self-interest and self-love!
Do not those who always seek consolation prove that they love themselves rather than Christ? Where can we find anyone who is willing to serve God for nothing? Such a person is worth far more than the jewels brought from the most distant lands.
Take up your cross and follow Jesus, and you will inherit everlasting life. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way and discipline of the cross. Go where you will, seek what you want, you will not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your desires and you will still have to bear some kind of suffering, willingly or unwillingly.
The cross, therefore, is unavoidable. It waits for you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself along. Turn where you will – above, below, without, or within – you will find the cross.
If you willingly carry the cross, it will carry you. It will take you to where suffering comes to an end, a place other than here. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you try to do away with one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one. How do you expect to escape what no one else can avoid? Which saint was exempt? Not even Jesus Christ was spared. Why is it that you look for another way other than the royal way of the holy cross?
The whole life of Christ was a cross. And the more spiritual progress you strive for, the heavier will your crosses become, for as your love for God increases so will the pain of your exile.
When you willingly carry your cross, every pang of tribulation is changed into hope of solace from God. Besides, with every affliction the spirit is strengthened by grace. For it is the grace of Christ, and not our own virtue, that gives us the power to overcome the flesh and the world. You will not even fear your enemy, the devil, if you arm yourself with faith and are signed with the cross of Christ.
Decide then, like a good and faithful servant of Christ, to bear bravely the cross of your Lord. It was out of love that he was crucified for you. Drink freely from the Lord’s cup if you wish to be his friend. Leave your need for consolation to God. Let him do as he wills. On your part, be ready to bear sufferings and consider how in these sufferings lies your greatest consolation. The sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.
When you get to the point where for Christ’s sake suffering becomes sweet, consider yourself fortunate, for you have found paradise on earth
|TO MANY the saying, “Deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow Me,” [Matt. 16:24] seems hard, but it will be much harder to hear that final word: “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.” [Matt. 25:41] Those who hear the word of the cross and follow it willingly now, need not fear that they will hear of eternal damnation on the day of judgment. This sign of the cross will be in the heavens when the Lord comes to judge. Then all the servants of the cross, who during life made themselves one with the Crucified, will draw near with great trust to Jesus Christ, the judge.
Why, then, do you fear to take up the cross when through it you can win a kingdom? In the cross is salvation, in the cross is life, in the cross is protection from enemies, in the cross is infusion of heavenly sweetness, in the cross is strength of mind, in the cross is joy of spirit, in the cross is highest virtue, in the cross is perfect holiness. There is no salvation of soul nor hope of everlasting life but in the cross.
Take up your cross, therefore, and follow Jesus, and you shall enter eternal life. He Himself opened the way before you in carrying His cross, and upon it He died for you, that you, too, might take up your cross and long to die upon it. If you die with Him, you shall also live with Him, and if you share His suffering, you shall also share His glory.
Behold, in the cross is everything, and upon your dying on the cross everything depends. There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way of the holy cross and daily mortification. Go where you will, seek what you will, you will not find a higher way, nor a less exalted but safer way, than the way of the holy cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your will and judgment, and still you will find that some suffering must always be borne, willingly or unwillingly, and thus you will always find the cross.
Either you will experience bodily pain or you will undergo tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself. You cannot escape, you cannot be relieved by any remedy or comfort but must bear with it as long as God wills. For He wishes you to learn to bear trial without consolation, to submit yourself wholly to Him that you may become more humble through suffering. No one understands the passion of Jesus Christ so thoroughly or heartily as the man whose lot it is to suffer the like himself.
The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will — above, below, without, or within — you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.
If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one. Do you expect to escape what no mortal man can ever avoid? Which of the saints was without a cross or trial on this earth? Not even Jesus Christ, our Lord, Whose every hour on earth knew the pain of His passion. “It behooveth Jesus Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead, . . . and so enter into his glory.” [Luke 24:46, 26] How is it that you look for another way than this, the royal way of the holy cross?
The whole life of Jesus Christ was a cross and a martyrdom, and do you seek rest and enjoyment for yourself? You deceive yourself, you are mistaken if you seek anything but to suffer, for this mortal life is full of miseries and marked with crosses on all sides. Indeed, the more spiritual progress a person makes, so much heavier will he frequently find the cross, because as his love increases, the pain of his exile also increases.
Yet such a man, though afflicted in many ways, is not without hope of consolation, because he knows that great reward is coming to him for bearing his cross. And when he carries it willingly, every pang of tribulation is changed into hope of solace from God. Besides, the more the flesh is distressed by affliction, so much the more is the spirit strengthened by inward grace. Not infrequently a man is so strengthened by his love of trials and hardship in his desire to conform to the cross of Jesus Christ, that he does not wish to be without sorrow or pain, since he believes he will be the more acceptable to God if he is able to endure more and more grievous things for His sake.
It is the grace of Jesus Christ, and not the virtue of man, which can and does bring it about that through fervor of spirit frail flesh learns to love and to gain what it naturally hates and shuns.
To carry the cross, to love the cross, to chastise the body and bring it to subjection, to flee honors, to endure contempt gladly, to despise self and wish to be despised, to suffer any adversity and loss, to desire no prosperous days on earth — this is not man’s way. If you rely upon yourself, you can do none of these things, but if you trust in the Lord, strength will be given you from heaven and the world and the flesh will be made subject to your word. You will not even fear your enemy, the devil, if you are armed with faith and signed with the cross of Jesus Christ.
Set yourself, then, like a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ, to bear bravely the cross of your Lord, Who out of love was crucified for you. Be ready to suffer many adversities and many kinds of trouble in this miserable life, for troublesome and miserable life will always be, no matter where you are; and so you will find it wherever you may hide. Thus it must be; and there is no way to evade the trials and sorrows of life but to bear them.
Drink the chalice of the Lord with affection it you wish to be His friend and to have part with Him. Leave consolation to God; let Him do as most pleases Him. On your part, be ready to bear sufferings and consider them the greatest consolation, for even though you alone were to undergo them all, the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come.
When you shall have come to the point where suffering is sweet and acceptable for the sake of Jesus Christ, then consider yourself fortunate, for you have found paradise on earth. But as long as suffering irks you and you seek to escape, so long will you be unfortunate, and the tribulation you seek to evade will follow you everywhere. If you put your mind to the things you ought to consider, that is, to suffering and death, you would soon be in a better state and would find peace.
Although you were taken to the third heaven with Paul, you were not thereby insured against suffering. Jesus said: “I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” [Acts 9:16] To suffer, then, remains your lot, if you mean to love Jesus and serve Him forever.
If you were but worthy to suffer something for the name of Jesus, what great glory would be in store for you, what great joy to all the saints of God, what great edification to those about you! For all men praise patience though there are few who wish to practice it.
With good reason, then, ought you to be willing to suffer a little for Jesus Christ since many suffer much more for the world.
Realize that you must lead a dying life; the more a man dies to himself, the more he begins to live unto God.
No man is fit to enjoy heaven unless he has resigned himself to suffer hardship for Jesus Christ. Nothing is more acceptable to God, nothing more helpful for you on this earth than to suffer willingly for Jesus Christ. If you had to make a choice, you ought to wish rather to suffer for Jesus Christ than to enjoy many consolations, for thus you would be more like Jesus Christ and more like all the saints. Our merit and progress consist not in many pleasures and comforts but rather in enduring great afflictions and sufferings.
If, indeed, there were anything better or more useful for man’s salvation than suffering, Jesus Christ would have shown it by word and example. But He clearly exhorts the disciples who follow Him and all who wish to follow Him to carry the cross, saying: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” [Luke 9:23]
When, therefore, we have read and searched all that has been written, let this be the final conclusion — that through much suffering we must enter into the kingdom of God.