10 April 2020 Homily by Bishop Treanor for Good Friday

Good Friday is a day for contemplation.  So, having listened to St John’s account of the Passion and death of Jesus Christ:

As the day progresses, we might take a moment to contemplate the mystery of the invitation, transmitted in the tradition of the Christian faith, to come to know and believe in God, who became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth.

Contemplating this mystery, we might dwell on how God entered our human condition in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Through the pages of the New Testament our minds are opened to the radically new perspective Jesus offered on life and on the radical exercise of personal freedom in response to the truth at the heart of our human consciousness.  Contemplating the life of Christ, as outlined in the Scriptures, we see how He, in exercising that radical freedom, had to assume the pain, isolation and horrors of suffering and injustice in order to deliver us, humanity, from death, evil and injustice.

Having followed the account of the Passion of Jesus, we might contemplate the mystery of the death of God, puzzling prayerfully its significance, so that tomorrow night during the Easter Vigil, our lives, our self-awareness, may be opened anew to the new life and new hope generated by the Risen Christ, encountered by Mary of Magdala and the other Mary, as we shall recall with the reading of the gospel according to St Matthew during the Easter Vigil tomorrow night (Mt.28.1).

As we follow the account of the Passion today, the Christian tradition of faith in Jesus Christ invites us to search for the voice of the crucified and risen God in the darkness of our own sufferings, in the illness, brokenness, isolation, depression, disappointments, failures, self-questionings and in the disasters, like the current pandemic, that beset us. 

This Good Friday liturgy invites us to dwell for a time on those words from the first reading, from the song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah  – “on him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we have been healed” (Is.53.5).

As we contemplate the mystery of God, who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ as a God who suffers and dies, against the canvas of our lives stories, we might also anchor in our hearts on this Good Friday the words of the author of the letter to the Hebrews, the second reading in the liturgy of the Word : let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help” (Heb 4.16).  Scruples and ultimate fear are dissolved by the saving gaze of the suffering and crucified Christ.

As we proceed to adore the Wood of the Cross, and later this evening to follow the Way of the Cross and celebrate Tenebrae, the Good Friday liturgy and rites sustain and strengthen us in faith.

These liturgies re-present the saving mystery that faith in the crucified and Risen Christ offers humanity. They proclaim the new, liberating and expansive perspective on life, on the human condition in its greatness and ambiguity, that is offered by faith in Christ.  Reiterating the New Testament proclamation of the Christ who suffered, died and was raised from the dead, they offer the promise of reaching a fullness of human potential, as inspired, enriched and redeemed by the power of faith in Christ. Response to this grace in faith makes of us an Easter people.   

And as an Easter people, bonded in Christ with humanity and God’s creation,  on this Good Friday 2020, we hold in our prayers all in our hospitals, care and nursing homes, who are taking their lives in their hands each day, as they care for and minister to those who are ill and suffering with the coronavirus. May the suffering and Risen Christ sustain their courage and protect them from all harm.

Amen.