Good Friday, 2018

Good Friday, March 30, 2018

Fr. Forlano, St. Stanislaus Parish 

The next to the last “word” that Jesus says from the Cross is “I thirst.”  What is it that Jesus thirsts for from the cross?  He thirsts for our love – that we have a  heart that seeks him.  The words “I thirst” that Jesus speaks from the Cross recall his encounter with the Samaritan woman – the woman at the well who Jesus asked for a drink.  He engages in conversation with that woman so she can understand the deep thirst in her heart – a thirst for love and mercy – a thirst for living water.  Jesus died on the cross to make available that “living water” to all of humanity.  God’s response to our sin is an outpouring of mercy.  Loving us “to the end” – depicted by the blood and water that flows from his side – they are the symbols of Baptism and Eucharist that wash away sin and nourishes us with his life.  In the revelation of Divine Mercy, Jesus taught St. Faustina this prayer, “O Blood and Water that gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fount of Mercy for us, I trust in you!”  The mercy of Jesus that pours forth has almost an immediate transformative effect.  Joseph of Arimathea, a secret disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, now asks Pilate for the body of Jesus to perform the Jewish burial rites.  Once afraid to associate himself with Jesus, Joseph now approaches the one who condemned Jesus.  He is able to face “the powers that be” and do something that would be “politically incorrect” according to the dominant mentality of the religious ruling class.  Mercy is what is attractive about Jesus, because mercy is more powerful than death.  Joseph is willing to give of himself, to his own potential loss, because of this encounter with mercy.  Virtue and righteousness, doing the works of mercy, like burying the dead, flow from the encounter with mercy.  Nicodemus, who only before came to Jesus under cover of darkness, now, with Joseph of Arimathea, cooperates in the very public act of burial.  “The will to respond and to change, which can give rise to a different life, comes thanks to this merciful embrace.”  It is this change that is proof of the resurrection – that he changes me – that he gives me a new life.  I know he exists because he changes me.  Salvation occurs when the thirst of God meets the thirst of man.  There is life for those stuck in the shadows of shame and sin.  Being aware of my sin puts me in touch with my thirst, my deep need for mercy.  What Jesus does on the Cross – his response to our sin and suffering, says to each of us: “I was like you, I was unjustly condemned and killed, and I accepted it so that you understand that I was a participant in the trial that you’re now undergoing.” Life is a land of trial, but God appeared as one of us. Nothing is excluded – not even death.  The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.  So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”  We need to ask for his mercy – for ourselves and for others.  That is why in this liturgy of Good Friday, we place all of our needs and those of the world before our Lord, uniting them with Christ in his passion.  We pray that we will all have hearts open to his mercy, for as Pope Francis likes to say, “only those who have been caressed by the tenderness of mercy truly know the Lord.”

Jesus, may the crosses I experience bring me into conversation with you.  Help me to recognize that my thirst is for you, so I can cry out to you with joy, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”