Reflections

GOOD FRIDAY OF THE LORD’S PASSION, APRIL 2, 2021

IT IS ACCOMPLISHED
Introduction
Good Friday: good for us, but painful and humiliating for Jesus. In his suffering and death God seems to be reduced to silence. But today we do not weep over someone who died. We raise up our eyes to Jesus who died to give us life. His death means the victory of life over death, for we see Jesus’ death in the light of his resurrection and the beginning of our risen life. Death is defeated.
Just before his death on the cross, Jesus says: “It is accomplished” or “It is fulfilled.” What is accomplished? Accomplished and finished is his torture on the cross and his earthly life and task. Accomplished in him is the will of the Father and his work to bring forgiveness and life to people. All is accomplished as far as Jesus’ mission on earth is concerned and we are assured that evil will never triumph again: The final victory belongs to God. But… Not yet accomplished is the kingdom of justice and love and compassion on earth. For that task is to be accomplished by us, the disciples of Jesus, who have to let the Spirit of Jesus accomplish that work in us and with us. As long as there are people who suffer from hunger and injustice, they add to what was lacking in the suffering of Jesus and we, the disciples, have to do away with these evils. This celebration of the Lord’s Passion reminds us of this task, so that we can help people rise with him.
 
Opening Prayer
Let us pray to God the Lord
to make us new people
made in the image of his beloved Son
(silence)
 
God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
your beloved Son became one of us,
like us in everything but sin,
when he was born from our flesh and blood.
By his suffering you save us
from the death we deserve
for being co-responsible for the evil of sin
in us and in the world.
May his suffering not have been in vain,
but fill us with the life and grace
he has won for us on the cross
and help us to become like him, our risen Lord
who lives and reigns with you for ever. R/ Amen.
 
First Reading: Jesus Took Our Ills Upon Himself
Suffering is hard to take and will always remain a mystery. Yet it is through suffering that the Servant of God won his victory over evil and sin. Suffering is a part of life and a source of life, in us as well as in Jesus the Servant.
 
1 Reading: Isaiah 52:13—53:12
See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him so marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it. Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. 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. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, a grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity. 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. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
R. (Lk 23:46) Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
 
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God. R.
 
For all my foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken. R.
 
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.” R.
 
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the LORD. R.
 
Second Reading: Jesus Felt and Made Up For Our Weakness
Jesus suffered for us to save us. Since his death and resurrection, everyone who suffers can unite one’s pains to those of Jesus and share in his victory over evil.
 
2 Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Brothers and sisters: Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 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. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 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.
 
Gospel Acclamation: Philippians 2:8-9
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
Christ became obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of the this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
 
Passion of Jesus: It Is Accomplished
John stood at the foot of the cross. He wants the world to know that Jesus is not merely a man who suffered and was put to death, but God’s own Son who voluntarily offered his life for all so that we can become God’s sons and daughters.
 
Gospel: John 18:1—19:42
Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, “I AM, ” they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me? Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed. Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?” They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone, ” in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die. So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary. Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly. Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, “Behold, the man!” When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid, and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, “If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your king!” They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.” Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down. So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, ” in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says: They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. This is what the soldiers did. Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit. Here all kneel and pause for a short time. Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and that they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe. For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: Not a bone of it will be broken. And again another passage says: They will look upon him whom they have pierced. After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.
 
Reflection:
In one of his reflections on Good Friday, Fr. Ron Rolheiser had written these beautiful lines. He says: “Good Friday was bad long before it was good, at least from outward appearances.” How could this be good when God was being crucified? The author of the Gospel expressed it so poignantly that, as Jesus was dying, it grew dark in the middle of the day. As Jesus hung upon the cross, light gave way to darkness, love to hatred, and life to death. How could this day be good?
Jesus no longer seemed divine, powerful, and in control of things. He seemed to be sinking into a personal doubt. Other than a few strong women who stood their ground, in spite of a hostile crowd jeering, everyone else was aiding in the crucifixion of Jesus, either out of ignorance, jealousy, or weakness. The Good Friday was not good. It showed humanity at its worst before God’s seeming silence.
Even the angel who strengthened him in Gethsemane seems to disappear when he is on the cross. A crushing dark night of doubt now torments him to the point of making him cry out with what seemingly sounds like despair: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”
To understand the gravity of this feeling of despair, we must recall Jesus’ relationship with his Father. On how many occasions did the gospels say, “Jesus went out to a lonely place and prayed”? “The one who see me, sees the Father… I am in the Father and the Father is in me…I and the Father are one”;… “I have come to do the will of my Father” and as a culmination of this beautiful Father-Son union, he taught us to call the Father “Abba” – Dady! How would it feel if someone whom you love the most, abandons you at a time when you actually need him/her the most?
In the face of that seeming abandonment, in ultimate darkness, Jesus had to make a choice for faith, love, and trust. What does Jesus do? He surrenders to the Father whom he cannot at that moment feel or understand but only trust. Here’s where Good Friday turns from bad to good, Jesus surrenders himself not in bitterness, grasping, or anger, but in trust, gratitude, and forgiveness. In that surrender, Jesus has won the most epic of all battles – the struggle between good and evil.
We will rid our world of those powers that perennially crucify God, only when each of us, like Jesus, can let our bitterness, grasping, and anger give way to trust, gratitude, and forgiveness. Like Jesus, we have to surrender ourselves to God that is, by trusting even when we don’t understand, by loving even when we are hated, and by forgiving even when we are being hurt.
All of us will have our Good Fridays. By every appearance, they will look bad, but if we give ourselves over in trust they will be good.
Celebrant’s Introduction to the Veneration Rite
We shall now venerate the Lord’s cross. Strangely enough, to venerate the cross does not mean, even this Good Friday, to mourn the death of Jesus. It is true, we are sad and sorry that our sins caused his death; yet today we acclaim and kiss the cross as the sign of Jesus’ victory over sin and death, and therefore the sign of our liberation. He rose from the dead and he is alive. Therefore, we can rise and be alive to forgiveness and joy, and hope and life.
 
Introduction to the Communion Rite
Before us lies the broken body
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He did not live for himself,
he did not die for himself.
He lived and died for us.
He invites us now to take and eat his body
in his memory, to share in his sufferings and death
and to rise with him to a deeper Christian life.
He also invites us to break bread for one another,
that is, like him, to live for one another.
We now pray with Jesus to our Father in heaven. R/ Our Father…
 
Deliver Us
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and renew with us your covenant
on account of the love
with which your suffering Servant
died for us on the cross today,
in the joyful hope of rising again
as our glorious Savior Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…
 
Invitation to Communion
Thus says the Lord:
If the grain of wheat
does not fall in the ground
it remains a single grain,
but if it dies it yields fruit in abundance.
(raising the host)
 
This is the body of our Lord
who died on the cross
to become for us the source of life.
Happy are we to be invited
to the supper of forgiveness and life. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…
 
Prayer after Communion
Lord God, merciful Father,
we thank you for loving us so much
that you gave your only Son Jesus Christ
to restore us to life
by his triumphant death and resurrection.
Continue giving us the strength
to win our struggles against sin and evil
and to bear our crosses in life
together with your Son.
Give us the firm faith
that you want us to live
and to render you always
faithful, dedicated service.
Help us to give ourselves to one another
through Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
Prayer Over the People
Lord God, Father of Jesus Christ,
bless your people gathered here before you.
May your Son not have died for us in vain.
Send us home with the assurance
that our sins are forgiven,
that evil can be overcome
and that death is not the end.
Give us your risen Son
as our companion on the road of life,
to help us grow in your eternal life
and to bear witness to the world
that he lives among us
as our Lord for ever and ever. R/ Amen.

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