Good Friday Liturgy

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Homily notes of  Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin  Archbishop of Dublin

Pro-Cathedral 14th April 2017

“At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his passion”, we hear in the Second Eucharistic Prayer, which we regularly pray at Mass.  Jesus entered into his passion willingly.  How does this correspond to what we hear in the Gospels:  Jesus prays intensely that his Father might “remove this cup from me”.  He knows what his betrayal and passion will involve.   His anguish is such that his sweat appeared as large drops of blood.

Yet Jesus also knows that he has come not to do his own will but that of his Father.  Despite his anguish, he does not shrink from doing the will of his Father.   Jesus knows what his passion involves and he enters willingly into doing his Father’s will in the face of the powers of darkness.

Salvation and redemption do not come from within us, but from a power from on high which enables us to go beyond ourselves.  Jesus saves through his power which is the power of God, the God of love.

Where we fail to understand that, then we fail to understand Jesus and we fall into the trap of preferring something else, someone else, into false saviours.  The crowd prefer Barabbas the murderer than Jesus the healer and in their superficiality they open space in history for a culture of murder and corruption rather than a culture of love and healing.

Most of us would be ashamed to admit it, but within each of our hearts there lies the temptation to opt out of accepting the demands of Jesus and his call to love and mercy and forgiveness. Almost unknown to ourselves we opt for various forms of Barabbas, of what is destructive and damaging and harmful to us and to society.

Jesus alone is our king.  He is a king of love and mercy, but not king of compromise and half- heartedness.  We must opt fully for Jesus.  But we also know that Jesus is one the one knows our weakness and whose hand is always stretched out to help us stand up again when we fail.  Jesus is far from the vindictiveness and harsh judgment of much of the way our society treats its outcasts.

Apart from the presence of his Mother Mary and a few disciples, the formalities and the grim practices of execution are carried out unceremoniously and almost without emotion around Jesus, the Just one, and he is left alone, except for the comfort of a common criminal, to die.

Jesus cries out loudly: “It is accomplished”.  His mission is consumed.  He has given himself up even unto death so that we might live.  This brutal scene of inhumanity becomes the moment when humanity is redeemed.

Jesus abandoned becomes for us the source of life.  We Christians have to live as those who defend and witness to what life means.  We are called to be beside those whose lives have lost meaning and who see no hope.  We are called to be beside those who talents cannot flourish because of poverty and exclusion.  We are called to be close to those whose lives do not find acceptance because of our narrow judgementalism.  We are called not to stand by simply just taking note from a distance of those who lives are being destroyed by war and hatred, by violence, in the home, on the streets, on our roads, and through terrorism.  We are called to be heralds of life for those whose lives are weakest and unprotected, the unborn, the elderly, those who our modern society consider less worthy of life than others.

Lord Jesus you entered willingly into your passion and you revealed the God of love in ways that are astonishing to us:  you did not play God, you accepted humility, you brought healing and hope to many who were on the margins, you spoke with prostitutes, you touched lepers.   Teach us to love as you did.