March 24, 2016

GOOD FRIDAY- THE LORD’S PASSION (C) - HOMILY


GOOD FRIDAY- THE LORD’S PASSION (C) 

Ronald Stephens
Bishop of Holy Trinity Diocese and St. Andrew’s Cathedral Parish
The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

March 20, 2016

Celebration of the Lord’s Passion [Good Friday] Year C (March 25, 2016)

The cross has become a common symbol in our lives, so common that we often forget that it was an instrument of torture and death. Today we see it as a symbol of victory perhaps, but it was never that. And it is important for us to remember its original meaning. Though we look on it as the symbol of our salvation, it meant a very different thing in Jesus’ time. It meant humiliation, horror, a visible sign of what could happen to you if you didn’t obey Roman Law.
The readings today all speak eloquently for themselves. I particularly love the reading from the book of Isaiah when we are able to look backwards at the reading and apply it to Jesus.
It is as though Isaiah could see the future: listen again to the description – “…he grew up before the Lord like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him…he was despised and rejected by men; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole…he was cut off from the land of the living…they made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”
If you wonder where St. Paul got the notion of Christ dying for our sins, you don’t have to look any further than this. St. Paul’s whole theological argument of sin and redemption through Jesus comes from this background.
What does the mean for us 2000 and so years later? Have we become so familiar with the storyline, the theology that it surrounds us but no longer has any affect on us? I think we celebrate Good Friday each year to try to get us to remember, to strip away the familiar and be brought back again into the reality of what Christ did for us. The symbolism of the unveiling of the cross today, the veneration of the wood of the cross, should be symbols that help us to remember and feel again. The cross that was once a symbol of pain, suffering, humiliation, torture has become for us the instrument of salvation. When we make the sign of the cross, let us do so today with the contemplation of its meaning. When we venerate the cross, let us truly think about the sacrifice that has been made for us. Only in this way can we be ready to celebrate the true glory of the Resurrection which is yet to be remembered this week.