Good Friday 2010
Fr Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament,
2 April 2010
It has been said that:
Crucifixion probably first began among the Persians. Alexander the Great introduced the practice to Egypt and Carthage, and the Romans appear to have learned of it from the Carthaginians. Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it as a form of torture and capital punishment that was designed to produce a slow death with maximum pain and suffering. It was one of the most disgraceful and cruel methods of execution and usually was reserved only for slaves, foreigners, revolutionaries, and the vilest of criminals. Roman law usually protected Roman citizens from crucifixion, except perhaps in the case of desertion by soldiers.
The crowd was mad! The crowd was determined to put Jesus to death by this horrible means of crucifixion!
“Not this one, but Barabbas!”
They don’t even want to use His name when shouting for His Crucifixion; the name Jesus which means God saves. Instead of saying “Not Jesus, but Barabbas,” they had to say “Not this one, but Barabbas!”
Who were shouting for His crucifixion? The chief priests, the scribes, the leaders! Even those whom Jesus had healed perhaps! Where were those healed? Where were their voices shouting for Jesus to be released instead of Barabbas?
Perhaps, they were silent — not shouting for His crucifixion, but, why don’t they shout for His deliverance after experiencing themselves the goodness Jesus had done for them (the 10 lepers, the blind, the paralytic, the dead girl raised up to life, the sick, and the lame). Perhaps, they were shouting. Perhaps, few of them were shouting for His deliverance, but the voice of the rest of the crowd drowned their timid and lonely voice.
“Not this one, but Barabbas!”
The crowd of Jews (2000+ years ago) were mad and determined to put Jesus to death!
But, the Jews (as the Catechism teaches # 597) are not collectively responsible for the death of Jesus:
The historical complexity of Jesus’ trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. So we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole. Despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd, we cannot lay responsibility for the trial and death of Jesus. Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd’s cry: ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ This is a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence.
As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council: ‘Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, [nor Jews in the future], can be charged with the crimes committed during [Our Lord’s] Passion… The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from Holy Scripture.’
Since the law of belief is the law of prayer, we pray for the Jews at least every Good Friday according to our belief. We will hear later on the invitation to pray “for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of His name and in faithfulness to His covenant.” We will hear the prayer for them (our elder brothers and sisters): “Almighty and eternal God, long ago You gave Your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to Your Church as we pray that the people You first made Your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption.”
Since the Jews are not collective responsible for the death of Our Dear Lord, who is responsible then for His crucifixion? Who is responsible for His death on the cross? Who is the author of Christ’s Passion?
I, Fr. Miguel, am responsible for His Passion, for His Crucifixion and Death! You are responsible! Everyone in the world who sinned from the beginning of creation until the end of the world is responsible for Christ’s Passion.
“All sinners were the authors of Christ’s Passion (CCC 578)” — no exception! “In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that ‘sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the Divine Redeemer endured.” Our sins truly affect Christ Himself — not just the big ones but the small ones as well.
The Church does not hesitate to blame to Christians the grave responsibility with which we have all too often burdened the Jews alone. The current Catechism (598) quoted the Roman Catechism by stating:
We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for He is in them) and hold Him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is greater in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, “None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” We, however, profess to know Him. And when we deny Him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on Him.
Our Holy Father St. Francis in his admonitions to the Friars also mentioned that the demons did not even crucify Him. He said, “Nor did demons crucify Him; it is you who have crucified Him and crucify Him still, when you delight in your vices and sins.”
I am responsible for Christ’s Passion and Death!
You are responsible for Christ’s Passion and Death!
We are all the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings Our Poor Jesus suffered!
We too are the ones who shouted with the crowd: “Not this one, but Barabbas.”
We don’t necessarily say it by our words, but we say it by our actions many times (cf. Marmion’s Christ — The Ideal of the Priest)!
“Not this one, but Barabbas!”
Not this will of God, but my selfish will!
Not this love of God, but my self-love!
Not this eternal goodness, but this passing satisfaction!
Not this penance or mortification to control myself, but some pleasure to satisfy my urges!
This is what you and I often do! We make this choice that has eternal consequences! We make this choice (‘Not this one, but Barabbas’); this choice that affect Christ Himself to suffer and to die! This choice that affect His Mother as well to suffer and to witness the horribleness of Her Son’s crucifixion.
At the end of this Good Friday Service, there will be a silent procession from the parking lot to the Ephesus House as a symbol of our own imitation of John the Beloved Disciple in receiving Our Lord’s Mother into our hearts and taking Her into our homes. There will also be opportunity immediately after this service for you to go to Confessions if you were not able to go earlier or if you have not gone for years to Confession. I highly recommend you to go and not to wait any longer.
At the same time, the Passion and Death of Our Dear Lord not only shows us how bad we have done to Jesus through our sins, but it also shows us how good God is in His infinite love for you and me! As Jesus tells us: there’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. We are His friends whom Jesus lay down His life for!
The Father, by giving up His own Son for our sins, manifests that His plan for us is one of benevolent love. Prior to any merit on our part, He sacrificed His Son for us. We didn’t even know Him! We weren’t even born yet! He poured out His love for you and me! In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins. God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
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