A HOMILY FOR GOOD FRIDAY – MARCH 25TH, 2016 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you on this Good Friday!
On Palm Sunday, every year, we as Church read the Passion of Jesus together. Just like we did last Sunday. On Palm Sunday, we read in an every-three-year, rotating basis the Passion from the three Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Because we are in Year C this year, last Sunday, we read St. Luke’s version of the story. Five days later, on Good Friday, we read the Passion story again, but on Good Friday, we always read St. John’s version of the story. There are many reasons for this: Remember, St. John was the only Apostle who didn’t run away and who was actually present when many of these events took place. Secondly, John was the youngest, and his memory would have been better than the older Gospel writers. In fact, St. John tells us things that we don’t get to hear about in the other three Passion stories. Finally, St John most likely has copies of Matthew’s, Mark’s, and Luke’s Gospels, when he is writing his down, because his is the last to get written. This allows John’s Passion to be more reflective and more meditative. St. John wants to take us to Jesus’ suffering and death, and he wants us to feel it. This is obviously because these events describes had a profound effect on young John, and he wants all of us to be affected by them also.
One person, in St. John’s version of the Passion, who has a greater role to play than he does in the other three versions of the story, is Pontius Pilate. Pilate, is the Roman in charge. This is back before Romans made pizza, back when they ruled the entire modern world! And St. John almost makes you feel sorry for Pilate. Now, Pilate was not a good man. He ruled violently and wanted the Jews to know who was in charge. Pilate would have crucified a lot of people to keep control over the Jews. But in John’s Gospel, Pilate very clearly does not want to kill Jesus. In fact, Pilate keeps going to extremes so that he won’t have to kill him. He has Jesus tortured because he thought that that would certainly be enough. He offers up Barabbas, thinking surely they won’t want a murderer released, and that they will choose Jesus over Barabbas. Man, did he misread the situation. He wants to let Jesus go. He wants to do the right thing. And he has no idea, of course, that the only thing that history is going to remember about him or about his time as governor, is that he was the ONE who allowed the Crucifixion of Jesus to happen. Pilate, for all his power and authority, is weak. He caves to the pressure of the Jewish leadership. And in the end, he allows Jesus to be handed over for crucifixion.
My brothers and sisters, as we hear this story on this Good Friday, how many of us are just like Pilate? We don’t want to do the wrong thing, we just don’t have the courage and the fight in us to do anything differentlyl! I think that St. John really wants to use Pilate to help us see ourselves. Pilate is not all bad. He does want to release Jesus. He knows that Jesus has not committed any crime worthy of the death penalty. But Pilate is unwilling and unable to stand up to the Jewish mob and do the right thing. Pilate’s question about truth, really sums up the situation. In this moment, Pilate is stuck. And Pilate allows to happen, something that his conscience says is wrong.
My brothers and sisters, today as we gather here to be reminded of what Jesus did for us, we also need to acknowledge that we’ve got to stick with our consciences. We’ve got to do the truth. Jesus died because Pilate couldn’t stick up for what he believed in. But Jesus also died for all the rest of us, who don’t follow our consciences and who don’t do the right thing! Anybody can go along with the crowd, anybody can stick with what’s popular, and anybody can agree with what liars say is the truth. We are called to speak the truth, live truthfully, and to always do what we know is the right thing. Jesus taught us that way before He got to the Cross. Now today, we need the courage and the Faith to keep living that way, every day. May we passionately live out what we know is right! And may we never be afraid to stand up for the truth!
God bless us on this Good Friday… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!