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Homily – April 15th, 2022 – Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion


Is 52:13—53:12; Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn 18:1—19:42

One thing that strikes me every year when I read the Passion is that, as the Gospel is read, Jesus becomes more and more speechless, mute, His lines gradually fade out in the text… The Eternal Word of God becomes a Silent Word; He says nothing more, He simply is a silent life that is offered, a silent Lamb that is slain.

These paradoxes of the Gospel are always impressive to me: where there is less, there is more. It’s puzzling, and at the same time so beautiful, to realize how ‘silence’ can be pregnant with a ‘word’ of good news. A silent word that contains the best of all news!

It’s impressive that, in the Gospel of Mark, for instance, when Jesus was most disfigured, most wounded, crushed, destroyed, annihilated, and finally dead, that’s when the Roman Centurion looked at Him and say, “Ah, this was truly the Son of God.”
Where there is no trace of divine power, ah… that is where God really is!

So, all that God had to tell us, He told us from there, from the silence of the Cross. But ‘what’ exactly does the Silent God, in the crucified flesh of a silent man, tell us from His Cross? Jesus says nothing because He Himself, Crucified, is the whole Word of God! He, Crucified, is the very synthesis of the Everlasting Word of God!

He, Crucified, is a Silent Word of Forgiveness. Yes, Silent, because forgiveness doesn’t need to be audible, it doesn’t need to be hearable… forgiveness is an embrace.

We started this commemoration of the Lord’s Passion with a prayer, which says: ‘Remember your mercies, Lord, and with your eternal protection sanctify your servants, for whom Christ, by the shedding of his Blood, established the Paschal Mystery.’

In short, we were invoking Mercy and Protection. That’s what the Son of God gives us by shedding His blood for us. Jesus died, so that we might be forgiven. We didn’t deserve this; this is not justice, according to our criteria. We are guilty, not him.

But in that moment when pain, anguish, sweat, tears, blood, injustice were all coming together, mysteriously all justice was being fulfilled! He didn’t take the path of our justice, He didn’t abandon us to what we deserved.

At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, on Calvary, Jesus Christ died on the Cross. The paradox here is that the most Innocent Son of God was brutally Crucified and murdered like a criminal. And who could imagine that exactly there, in the cursed reality of the Cross, Justice, or rather, Perfect Love, had come to perfect fulfillment?

Because it is quite one thing to look at the Cross as one who already knows the end of the story. But think of those who were there, in person, watching that cruel, painful and bloody scene. Who could say that ‘all the Love in the world’ was being accomplished there?

God was embracing the world, with all that is within it, with all its beauties and all its sins, with all its authentic joys and all its mistakes, He was embracing the world with the Compassion of His Divine Heart.

Mercy and Protection. Jesus wrapped his protecting arms, His shielding arms all around us. He defended us from harm. He sheltered us from the wrath due to our sin and released His holy wrath upon us. As we were saying yesterday, God’s wrath, unloaded on us, is His Mercy. He consumes anger and releases Forgiveness!

Actually, He took onto Himself all that should have led to our death. The prophet Isaiah sums it up in one sentence: “He surrendered Himself to death, to take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” He wins forgiveness for us!

This is Mercy and Protection: to take onto yourself what properly and rightfully belongs to another, for their sake. This is forgiveness. ‘On Him lies a punishment that brings us peace, through his wounds we are healed.’ He is a Silent King who goes out to ‘struggle unto death’ for the protection of His people.

On the Cross, in the ‘loud silence’ and in the ‘powerful frailty’ of the wounded flesh Jesus, in His death, we are Embraced by the Extreme Love, the Mercy that gives Life to the world, and that is the “Life of the world”. The world is sustained by Divine Mercy! It’s held up by the Cross!

Today, we have come into the heart of the Passion of Christ. And it is intriguing that this word, Passion, is used to describe not a fleeting love, but an oblative one, an offering love, which Jesus takes to the very extreme.

The German Philosopher, Nietzsche, reproached Christianity, giving voice to that widely-held perception that: the Church, with all her commandments, had poisoned, had turned into bitterness the most precious thing in life, depriving us of this joy, of this foretaste of the Divine, which is Eros, Love as Passion. (‘Church is a fun-killer’, and so on…)

No! What we experience here is that Love is made of paradoxes, that it encompasses all the realities of life, joy and pain, pleasure and suffering.

Jesus went many times to the Gethsemane. He didn’t go there just for the final agony, but He went there to be with the disciples, for moments of joy, fraternal life, community; He went there to meet the Father in the intimacy of prayer; He went there, above all, to love.

Often, love takes on features of suffering, sacrifice, surrender, detachment. But love is much more than that. Although it is always willing to sacrifice, it is always life-giving. It is not incompatible with what is beautiful, joyful and pleasing in life, but rather it incorporates all of this. Cross and Resurrection, is the True Foretaste of the Divine!

Today, we’ll be able to passionately kiss, we’ll be able to embrace this Love that surrounds us with the Divine-Human arms of the Son, who forgives us and who protects us. Let us allow ourselves to be helped by this prayer of St. Catherine of Siena, which can give us an impulse for the Adoration of the Holy Cross, which we will experience together.

Embrace, then, Jesus crucified, raising to Him the eyes of your desire! Consider His burning love for you, which made Jesus pour out His blood from every part of His body! / Embrace Jesus crucified, and in him you will find true life… Let your heart and your soul burn with the fire of love drawn from Jesus on the Cross! / You must, then, become love, looking at God’s love who loved you so much not because He had any obligation towards you but out of pure gift, urged only by His ineffable love. / You will have no other desire than to follow Jesus! As if you were drunken with Love, it will no longer matter whether you are alone or in company: do not think about many things, but only about finding Jesus and following Him!

Fr. Cristiano Pinheiro C. Bede, ShCC – New York, April 15th, 2022 – Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Fr. Cristiano Pinheiro C. Bede, ShCC – New York, April 15th, 2022 – Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion


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