Friday, April 2, 2010

through his wounds we are healed

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
2 April 2010 – Rosary Monastery – St. Ann’s
Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1-19:42
“On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.”
            Just think of the centuries of Good Fridays that have been spent pondering Isaiah’s prophecy and the events of Jesus’ sorrowful Passion! This is so and rightly so because today is not a simple day to remember and honor a fallen soldier no matter how heroic his personal sacrifice can be imagined. Isaiah vaguely and we clearly contemplate God’s self-offering for our redemption, such that sin and death might be destroyed and the promise of everlasting life with God, lost through Adam’s sin, might be restored.
Not that long ago, I was listening to a speech by a man who does not come from our Judeo-Christian tradition or background. A part of his talk was a tribute to one of the founding fathers of his country in which he expressed gratitude for this man and the sacrifices he had made for the sake of his country, but who in death had passed into oblivion, as he said. As far as my speaker was concerned, one of the founding fathers of his country had passed with death simply into oblivion. The observation brought me up short and reminded me of the blessed revelation which is ours in Christ, so eloquently formulated in the first preface for funeral Masses:
“In him, who rose from the dead, our hope of resurrection dawned. The sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality. Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.”
            Oblivion? No, with death we do not dissolve, also because Jesus did not.
            Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross to save us from our sins was not just a blip on the radar screen of history. That figure of speech (the radar blip), just like those of the pebble dropped in the still pond, sending out its little concentric waves wider and wider across the surface of the pond, or of the flutter of a butterfly’s wings (insignificance or non-intrusion if ever there was), does not render properly the idea or mystery we celebrate in Christ’s death. His birth, His life, His suffering and death demarcate time; they are cosmic in their earthshaking importance. We rightly call Jesus the “New Adam”. The “Old Adam” chose death for himself and all his descendants by choosing a lesser good than life with God through obedience to His command. The “New Adam” opted to be swallowed up in death, destroying death and restoring life.
“On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.”
            In binding ourselves to Christ, we take on responsibility for the life of the world. The scribes and Pharisees sought to destroy Jesus because they could not deal with the implications, of whom He claimed to be, of who He is for the life of the world. As we just heard Jesus say to Pilate in the Passion account we read from St. John’s Gospel:
            “Yes, I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this; to bear witness to the truth, and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”
            Good Friday’s somberness, its sobriety, comes not from our remembrance of the tragic loss of life in the midst of unspeakable suffering. We are sobered, we are moved on Good Friday rather by the fact that it was God’s only Son, Whom He did not spare, but delivered up for the sake of all of us. On the Feast of the Annunciation and on Christmas we bend the knee as we contemplate the mystery of God becoming Man. On that happy occasion we are confounded by God’s stooping down to us and taking on our nature. Here, today, we find ourselves as a human race caught up in something truly confounding: despite our choice of a brigand Barabbas, handing over the Holy One of God to an ignominious death, “…through his wounds we are healed.”
            Today we bend the knee before His Cross and rightly so. I wish you a quiet rest of today to give thanks for God’s love; the awareness of the part your sins played in nailing Him to the Cross should be allowed free play in your heart and in your thoughts today. Gratitude is the only proper sentiment.
“On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.”

1 comment:

Msgr. Michael said...

Indeed, by His Wounds we are healed". I think this is what the "World" has lost and forgotten. Then answer to so many problems lie in that affirmation. St. Paul of the Cross in his time wrote that there was so much evil in his time because people had "forgotten" about the Passion, about these Wounds which still shine so Victoriously, and forever.

The Risen Christ could have appeared completely "healed", yet He chose not to. His WOUNDS, his glorious Wounds are eternal, lest we forget.

For all who suffer, for all sinners, for those who do evil, and those victims of it, for all of us...these Wounds give us an answer.

Thanks for this nice post.