Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

In his death on the Cross Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52:13-53:12. He gave his life as a sacrificial offering for the sins of all men, from Adam and Eve until the last person to be born at the end of time. He is the new passover lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. All who believe in him as God and Saviour and who are washed in the waters of Baptism are cleansed of their sins, reborn as children of God and receive a share in his divine life.

It is clear from St. Paul that the first Christians, who were pious, observant Jews, quickly came to realize that on the Cross Jesus was not only the Lamb of God but was also the priest who offers the expiatory sacrifice of his own human life and death. He is both priest and victim. They saw his words at the Passover meal of the supper before his death -this is my body, this is my blood that is given for you- together with the command "Do this is memory of me" as a new ritual sacrifice to be offered again and again by those to whom he had given the charge, for the sake of all who came to believe in him. Thus is born the Eucharistic liturgy which has sustained and nourished the Church and its faithful over two millennia.

Today, however, the Church suspends the celebration of this liturgy to turn its eyes to the Sacrifice from which it draws its life: Jesus on the Cross and the water and blood that flow from his opened side. We pray for all the needs of mankind and the conditions and states of the men and women of today. We are invited to unite our sufferings to those of the Redeemer for the needs of all who are bound to us by the bond of human solidarity, especially those who do not know the living God of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, the Father of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. All the things of man find meaning in Jesus Christ: the past, the present and the future. We pause in the shadow of the Cross to reflect on this.

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