Here is the English translation of Fr. Bart’s homily for Good Friday:
As Catholic Disciples of Jesus Christ, “we preach Christ Crucified.” The Cross is the principal symbol of Christianity and this is so because it reminds the world of the sacrificial love of Christ which he expressed to humankind through his passion and death. This is why we have placed our old Crucifix from our first Church, here in the sanctuary today for veneration. To the Jews of Jesus’ day, the cross was seen as a burden for criminals and suffering as punishment for sinners. Therefore, they think it is out of place to believe in someone who is crucified. Additionally, the Greeks who were renowned thinkers and philosophers of the time saw the cross as a sign of foolishness. In all their knowledge they could not understand how God would use ‘foolish things’ to express His greatness. But for us believers, we see victory in the Cross and that is why we call today in English, “Good Friday.”
The cross has a message for all believers today as it gives meaning to the trials and troubles in the world, and for standing as a symbol of love as well as a symbol of victory. We know too well the sufferings of our present age: Political turmoil in so many countries, mass migration and forced displacements of citizens, the plight of the poor, homelessness, the world health pandemic due to the Corona Virus that has brought medical and economic hardship, violence and crime in our neighborhoods, and human rights violations are some of the sufferings that we endure in our lifetime. It is a difficult time for sure. I know it is a difficult time for our families who worry about staying safe and healthy, and who worry about their jobs and money. We can even feel isolated now and fearful of the future. In our sufferings now, we are brought so close to Jesus on the Cross.
But as Catholics, because of the Cross, we believe that our trials are an inevitable path towards the attainment of salvation and victory. Jesus emphasized this fact clearly to his followers when he says, “If anyone wants to come with me, they must forget themselves, carry their cross and follow me.”
The cross brings to memory the sacrificial love of the one who hangs there. It is a clear proof of his love, that he laid down his life for us, and challenges us to do the same for our brothers and sisters. The early Fathers of the Church interpret the four cardinal points of the cross as symbols of the love of Christ. According to them, the vertical points signify the height and depth of his love, the horizontal points expressing the width and breadth of that love.
The message of the cross is a paradox because it seems to contradict itself, but in the contradiction itself is found an inherent truth: Death bringing forth new life! This shows how that which is negative, turns to be positive. Likewise, suffering and pain can bring about unimaginable blessings. It is within this context that we can understand why the tree of death has turned into a life-giving tree. In the very beginning, a tree brought about the fall of Adam, but in the new dispensation, a tree has brought about the glory of the new Adam, namely Christ. This is so because by his Cross he has redeemed the world. It speaks eloquently about the seeming victory of evil over what is good momentarily in our current situation. The Apostles saw in the cross the secret of their success and so one of them exclaims, “As for me, however, I will boast only about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Good Friday is a day to pause and think of the meaning of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. It is also a time to reflect on how his wounds bring healing to many and how his death offers a ticket of salvation to everyone. The cross has a pride of place in Christianity just as the incarnation and resurrection are important events in how God saves us. The hope of resurrection gives meaning to the passion and death, which is commemorated on Holy Friday. The cross then becomes a symbol of hope, which blares out the message:
In the risen Jesus, life conquered death. This Paschal faith nourishes our hope. I would like to share it with you on this Holy Friday. It is the hope of a better time, in which we can be better, finally freed from evil and from this pandemic. It is a hope: And hope does not disappoint! It is not an illusion; it is a hope in the love and promise of Jesus Christ Crucified!