This Friday Makes the Whole World Good
This Cross of Our Savior frees us from the power of sin, transforms death into a friend and incorporates us into the communion of Trinitarian love which begins in our life in the Church.
We are human ‘becomings’ now, called to be conformed to Jesus Christ,refashioned into the Image and Likeness of the New Adam, the firstborn of the new creation.
In Jesus Christ we see the human face of God, “Good” Incarnate revealed in the purity of a love which no man or woman could ever see until His Incarnation. In His great voluntary gift of Himself which culminates in his ascent of the New Altar of the New Covenant, the Second Tree of the New Creation, the Cross/Throne of the King of Kings, we encounter Good. We behold the Beauty of Divine Love given for the whole world.
There is a paragraph in the Second Vatican Councils’ document on the Church (GS 22) which opens the mystery and meaning of the Saving Incarnation, Life, Suffering, Death and bodily Resurrection of this God made man, Jesus Christ. It can draw us to our knees in worship and motivate us in our effort to respond to our Baptismal vocation. Today we see Love lifted up from the earth drawing all men and women, fulfilling His promise (John 12:32). In His dying we find the power to live. We find our life’s meaning and mission, to continue His redemptive mission. On that great Day we will be raised bodily and dwell forever in a new heaven and new earth. This paragraph was a favorite of the late Servant of God John Paul II:
“The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. …He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward.”
These great three days, the “Triduum”, are one saving, liberating, healing and transformational event. In His loving sacrificial death which completed His loving sacrificial life we see what Good really means as Jesus shows us the Father. We also find ourselves capacitated by grace to become “good” ourselves, ‘through Him, with Him and in Him by the unity of the Holy Spirit’ as the words of our Canon proclaim at every Holy Mass.
The paragraph continues: “As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His own blood. In Him God reconciled us to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God "loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). By suffering for us He not only provided us with an example for our imitation, He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.”
Because of our misuse of free choice, which is a part of the the Image of God imprinted within us, we earned the “wages of sin” (Romans 6:23). By choosing against the invitation to eternal communion with God we lost our way. As a consequence death came into the world. Death is separation from God. The “law of sin and death” was unleashed, impeding our capacity to choose rightly and fracturing our freedom. In the Cross we are given the splint for the fracture. In the crimson flow of Blood from the side of the Son of God we find the healing remedy for all of our wounds. In His Saving Death we are freed to live under a new law, the law of the “Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus”. (Romans 8)
The paragraph continues: “The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn of many brothers, received "the first-fruits of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:23) by which he becomes capable of discharging the new law of love. Through this Spirit, who is "the pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:14), the whole man is renewed from within, even to the achievement of "the redemption of the body" (Rom. 8:23): "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the death dwells in you, then he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also bring to life your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who dwells in you" (Rom. 8:11). Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope.”
Our life in heaven begins on earth. The two, heaven and earth,once separated by sin, have been joined by the Bridge of the Cross. As we live our lives in the Church we find the graces we need to walk along its saving path. We are human ‘becomings’ now, called to be conformed to Jesus Christ,refashioned into the Image and Likeness of the New Adam, the firstborn of the new creation. The Spirit which raised Him from the dead is at work within us. As we join ourselves more fully with him by embracing the life of grace offered through the Church and mediated by the Sacraments we can be transformed.
As the Apostle Peter told the early Christians “His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power” (2 Peter 1:3). We imitate Him in battling the evil one and resisting temptation. We embrace tribulations and join them to His Cross, making them occasions for grace. If we die in Him - daily and at the end of our temporal life - we will find that death no longer has any power over us. In the words of the ancient hymn, “He trampled on death by Death”. Rather than a stone meant to confine us it becomes a door to our eternal communion with the Father.
“All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery. Such is the mystery of man, and it is a great one, as seen by believers in the light of Christian revelation. Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon us so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit; Abba, Father.”
What we commemorate on Good Friday is the greatest gift ever given, the gift of Jesus Christ in whom as the apostle Paul says “all the promises of the God find their Yes” (2 Cor. 1:20). We behold His Divine and Human “Yes” in those arms stretched out to embrace the whole world. This Cross frees us from the power of sin, transforms death into a friend and incorporates us into the communion of Trinitarian love which begins in the Church. In the words of the Council Fathers the Church is the “seed and the beginning” of the Kingdom. We are invited to live in the Church and change the world, spreading the seeds of the Kingdom everywhere.
This is the Friday that makes the whole world Good.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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