Friday, April 02, 2010

today

Saint Dismas - the Good Thief
"today is the greatest day
i've ever known"
(Smashing Pumpkins - Today, 1993)

after an amazing and powerful liturgy last night during the Mass of the Lord's supper, i celebrated today the liturgy of Good Friday. here's my homily:

today, Good Friday, is the most solemn day on the liturgical calendar, and the homily demands briefness, in order to let the proclaimed Passion speak for itself. The liturgy of Good Friday, in which we enter into the mystery of Christ’s redemptive death, invites us to contemplate the deep relationship between the Last Supper and the sacrifice of Calvary – what has begun last night, continues today.


on Good Friday, we find ourselves standing at the foot of the cross with our Blessed Lady and the holy women. We once again hear the Passion of St. John proclaimed, which, from start to finish, is the story of Christ’s glorious victory, shining through his broken and crucified humanity. Many things are going on this Easter Weekend, and we take time today to remember Our Lord JC, and what he has done for us! After spending the day with my brother priests this week at the Mass of the Chrism, I realize how busy they are as well. It is because of the Paschal or Easter Triduum that the Church refrains from scheduling baptisms and/or weddings – the priests are busy too. In this same vein, it has been misunderstood, though, or wrongly communicated that there should be no confessions. The scheduling of confessions on Good Friday and Holy Saturday is admirable and not at all in conflict either with the letter or the spirit of the liturgical norms. Perhaps one of the more eloquent arguments in support of this position is the practice of the Holy Father himself, who has personally heard confessions as a regular practice on Good Friday.


at this point I recall what Our Lord did for the repentant thief. When one was heard saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” The other said, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, remember me when you come into Your kingdom.” If Our Lord has the time to hear one last confession, before his death – death on a Cross, surely this puts aside any doubt as to whether the priest can hear confessions during the Easter Triduum. Through the priest's words of forgiveness and absolution, the penitent hears once again the words of Christ to the repentant thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”


as we continue with the liturgy, we will be invited to venerate our crucified Lord on the Cross. This is a powerful gesture of affirming our personal sorrow for whatever way our own sins necessitated such suffering. Like the good thief, carrying our cross, we also see something in Jesus that we cannot explain - he saw a man on a tree and knew He was God. His need made him see his own guilt and Our Lord's innocence. A common thief responded to His love with deep Faith, Hope, and Charity. He saw more than his eyes envisioned - he felt a Presence he could not explain and would not argue with. He was in need, and accepted the way God designed to help him.


the promise of eternal life is made to the good thief, and to you and I today – our tears, are not tears of sorrow but of joy, for a God who loves us so much. Indeed, this is the wood of the Cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world.

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