In his homily for Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, Year B, Father Hanly wants us to understand Jesus’ great gift to us and how God is saying, “You are worthy of my Son’s sacrifice, my Son’s death.”
First Reading: Isaiah 52:13–53:12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel: John 18:1–19:42
My brothers and sisters, what we read today in the Gospel is very moving.
We feel a great sorrow for Jesus who seems to be standing all alone, not only against his enemies, but against those who ran away and held up no defence for him.
But to think that this is the Son of God, this is the Son of God of whom the Father Himself said, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”
And what did He give him to?
He gave him to us.
And why did He give him to us?
Because we were the last hope that God had that the world that He created, and all its beauty and grandeur and all its loveliness and all its promise, had gone astray and that the world had turned into a terrible place and yet He hoped, the Father, His last hope was that Jesus himself would come. God became man and dwelt amongst us just like we are.
To see him as a baby, to see him grow up, to see him become a well-known speaker, to see what we are witnessing today, how he was taken and how he was treated.
And of course, it is easy for us to say we would never do that, it is those others, the evil people, that do these things.
And yet that is not true, for how often have we turned against a friend? How often have we hurt somebody that we once loved deeply? How often have we turned selfishly away from needy people? How often can we say that we have killed, but in a much different sort of way?
As the poet says,
“Each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.”
There is only one thing that we are called upon to do on such an occasion as this and that is to say, “Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.” And it is out of thanksgiving that we are healed.
Jesus taught only two things. If you look at the two pictures, one in the back and one behind me…
The first one is the Last Supper which showed the great love that Jesus had for his friends.
And before that great love feast took place, he taught them the way to that love and the way that the world could be changed and the way the world could become a place that his Father made for us and has been all so often frustrated.
And then you have to look at the picture in the back, because he went out onto the porch and he took the water that was there where slaves washed the feet of the honoured guests. And he brought the pan in and he took off his clothes and he knelt down in front of his disciples and he began to wash their feet.
He washed their feet, not because he was trying to convince them of anything, it was the act of a slave and the lowest of all slaves was the only one called upon to wash the feet of others.
And yet when he came to Peter, Peter said, “Not me. You’re not going to wash my feet.”
And then Jesus revealed a great revelation, “Unless I wash your feet, you can have nothing to do with me. You can have nothing to do with love. You have nothing to do with my Father. You have nothing to do with understanding, if you do not let me wash your feet.”
Then you are like all the rest of humanity, busy about their own progress, busy about things that later might seem silly and stupid, but were just distractions in the great call of God to say, “You must serve each other. The great truth is my Son comes to serve, to wash feet, because I, God, myself wash feet and serve you all the time.”
And this is the wonder and this is what brings happiness to this wonderful affair, is because God Himself has come and said, “If you want joy and peace and happiness, it is very simple, serve. Serve others.”
And it is by serving others you will know others, and by knowing others you will love others, and by loving others you will make yourself one in the family of God.
And so, today, it begins with great tragedy and sorrow.
But the great lesson, the lesson that everybody knows: if you want love, you must learn to love; if you want fairness, you must be fair; if you want to people to respect you, you must learn to respect others.
For it is in loving others that we are redeemed, and in reaching out to others we lose our loneliness, and, most of all, in loving this way, we walk with Jesus, one day at a time, slowly but irrevocably, into the great change that God will bring about in this world when we finally hear the words of Christ whose final words were, “I have come to bring you great joy.” And that great joy is that “You are worthy of my Son’s sacrifice, my Son’s death.”
And there’s only one commandment that is left to all of us. When Jesus was asked, “What should we do? What should we do?” He only said one sentence: “You must learn to love one another in the same way that I have loved you.”
Information about Father Hanly’s homily for Good Friday, Year B
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This homily was delivered on 6th April 2012.
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