ISAIAH 52:13-53:12; PSALM 31; HEBREWS 4:14-16, 5:7-9; JOHN 18:1-19:42
Background: Today the whole Church mourns the death of our Savior. This is traditionally a day of sadness, spent in fasting and prayer. The Lord’s passion takes place in the mid-afternoon (3pm) as this corresponds to the time when Jesus arrived at Calvary to be crucified. This is the only day mass is not celebrated in the Church. The celebration begins with a silent procession to the sanctuary, and ends with a silent movement to the Sacristy. The silence reminds us of the importance of day, the painful death of our Lord and the defeat of death.
Today’s liturgy is divided into three parts: The Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion.
The Liturgy of the Word: This is followed by the Solemn Intercessions (we are reminded to pray for healing for all victims of COVID 19 and Restoration of our world). The Veneration of the Cross: The Veneration begins with the presentation of the Cross to the people before the individual goes forward to (bow) in veneration. The Cross as the sign of salvation is placed in a prominent position before the people as a reminder of the price Christ paid for all. Holy Communion: Today’s celebration concludes with the Holy Communion after which the people leave in silence.
Homily: Isaiah in our first reading speaks of the Suffering Servant, who suffered and died for our sake. This suffering servant is Jesus Christ. Amidst the suffering and passion Jesus placed is trust in the Lord. Today’s Psalm captures this when it says: “In you, O Lord, I take refuge. Let me never be put to shame. In your justice, set me free, Into your hands I commend my spirit”. Beloved, do not be discouraged because of the trials you are going through. Commit your dealings to the Lord and He shall save you. Finally, the passion narrative according to St John is different from the narratives on Palm Sunday because it focuses more on the kingship of Jesus. That became the topic of argument! Little do they know that his kingship was not of this world. Herod had wanted to kill him after his birth in Bethlehem because the wise men told him that a King has been born. Yet till his adulthood it was for that same reason he was killed. Therefore, upon every accusation Jesus led the world to salvation. The Cross is a victorious symbol. Venerate it in a special way today. It a symbol of hatred and forgiveness; a symbol of hatred and love and a symbol of pain and glory. Lord help us and save us!