Apr 14, 2017

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

Passion according to John: John 18: 1 - 19:41

This is absolutely one of those days where the ancient liturgy speaks for itself.  The rejoicing of last Holy Thursday night is replaced by the starkness and drama of the Good Friday liturgy. In fact, in this case, the Eucharist is really not the center of the liturgy.  Rather, it is replaced by the proclamation of the Passion of Jesus according to St. John and the veneration of the cross by all present.  While Communion is distributed, the consecrated hosts are those from last night's Mass. So, this is the only day of the year in which there is no Mass.

Here at this parish we are blessed with outstanding music.  Our adult choir will sing this evening during the veneration of the cross and we always encourage people to not rush home after doing so in order for personal meditation.We simply change the order of the service slightly by offering the Eucharist after the large cross is carried through the Church and placed in a prominent location before the altar. Holy Communion is then offered and then the cross is venerated so the folks are able to come forward to honor the cross and reflect on it more personally. Whatever physical gesture we use to venerate (honor) the cross through a bow, a touch, a genuflection, kneeling for a moment, or a kiss to the wood of the cross, what matters more than anything is where our heart remains.  Is it just for "show" or so others will think I'm pious?  Or is it a real expression of love and gratitude for all the cross of Christ means for our lives?  In honoring the cross we are giving reverence to Jesus himself and committing ourselves once again to walk in his way.  It's a big order at times, we all know that, but God's infinite patience is our hope.

At any rate, the reading of the Passion of Christ from John's Gospel earlier provides a powerful framework for this significant day.  May it be for all of us a moving service that goes beyond the drama of a well done liturgy.  Our call to conversion, gratitude for God's overwhelming mercy, and joyful anticipation of our newly baptized tomorrow evening along with the next 50 days of Easter joy be for all of us a new beginning once again.

God can never be outdone yet all we do for him through our selfless service, our washing of each other's feet, has the power to let his light shine brightly in this all too dark world.

O God, who by the Passion of Christ your Son our Lord,
abolished the death inherited from ancient sin
by every succeeding generation, 
grant that just as, being conformed to him, 
we have borne by the law of nature
the image of the man of earth, 
so by the sanctification of grace
we may bear the image of the Man of heaven. 
Through Christ our Lord. 

(Collect of liturgy)