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Friday, April 19, 2019

Fr. James C. Campbell Good Friday Message

As we prayerfully reflect upon the passion, death, and crucifixion of Our Lord, we come to see that the suffering, the pain, and the bitter agony of Our Lord Jesus Christ is not only a gory, gruesome, bloody and vivid reminder of the grave, devastating, lethal, and utterly vile effects of sin. The crucifixion is also a beautiful portrait of self-abandonment, self-sacrifice, and surrender. In a word, the cross is a testimony of God’s age-old love. 

Here at the cross we come to know what true love is, what it looks like, we come to know its attributes, its qualities, and its characteristics. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, and it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails” (1Cor 13:4-8). 

The crucifixion is an illuminating depiction of God’s infinite love, a contemplative vision of divine intimacy, a piercing and penetrating visualization and revelation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ! On the cross Jesus literally opens His heart for us. Scripture says: “one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water gushed out” (Jn 19:34).

The passion, death, and crucifixion of Jesus reveal the breadth and length and height and depth, of God’s love. "A love that surpasses knowledge and all comprehension" (Eph 3:19) and yet it is captured here in the image of the cross, in the person of Jesus Christ, in the suffering of the Servant of God, in the sacrifice of the Lamb.

If you want to know how much God loves you look at the crucifix. It is proof positive of God’s unfathomable love. “For Christ while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).

In his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI says that “Jesus’ death on the cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and to save him. This is love in its most radical form!” On the cross God mysteriously and gratuitously lavishes his love upon us. 

And this is the point I’m driving home – beyond the reality of sin, beyond its gravity and its effects, beyond the imitation of Christ, beyond the moral imperative of the Gospel and all that the cross demands of us, the cross is first and foremost a revelation and manifestation of God’s tremendous, extraordinary, incredible and inconceivable love.

The cross is a whisper uttered in the hour of darkness – a darkness so dense that it eclipsed the sun. It is an expression of solidarity and accompaniment in the loneliness of abandonment. It is a word of forgiveness spoken in the heat of betrayal. It is a communication of peace in the midst of violence, hatred, envy, war, and injustice. It is a calming note amidst the cacophony of noise spewing from the blood thirsty mob calling for Christ’s death and crucifixion. It is a reassuring presence and a sure shelter amidst the storm tossed waters of life and the scandal, chaos, and uncertainties that plague the Church and threaten to rob her children of their God-given supernatural faith. 

The cross is a message of hope in despair, and truth in the midst of lies, false accusations, and the complete and utter, mass confusion that corrodes and eats away at the very soul of mankind, of cultures, and of nations. The cross is the voice of God and the word spoken is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the word spoken by God on the cross and that word is a word of consolation, that word it is a word of peace, that word is a word of mercy, compassion, and selfless, self-emptying, sacrificial love – a love so real, so tangible, so strong and powerful that St. Paul asks: 

“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35-39).

“Behold the Pierced One” (Zach 12:10). “Put your finger here into the nail marks. Place your hand into my side and no longer be unbelieving Thomas, but believe” (Jn 20:27). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him might not die but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these words of love, mercy and compassion, Fr. James. Peace be with your spirit...

Kathy said...

Thank you for the wonderful truth of this message. Thank you, Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great wisdom Fr. James!