Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Good Friday of the Lord's Passion
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
April 3rd, 2015
Year B

The great Church theologian St. Thomas Aquinas invites us today to “think diligently” of Christ. That is, to think of Him over and over again. Do so means to carefully ponder Him, and ask: who is He? Why did He come to us? Why did He suffer? Naturally, I have some thoughts on this topic…

I have heard the case from so many people: “I am spiritual but not religious.” or “I like to worship God in my own way” and “There is no right or wrong way to love God.” These statements, made with utmost sincerity, are not false but in many ways miss the mark. We are spiritual beings and we are called to worship God and to love Him in a very personal way that is unique to each individual person. There is truth here. When we, however, understand more and more who Jesus really is, we see that there is a right way to love and worship – in body and soul. You see, we are made up of both matter and spirit and we are relational beings. We do not live in isolation. We were made for relationship – to love and to be loved. It is at one and the same time a theological and human reality.

In that sense, the Letter to the Hebrews helps us to understand who Jesus is and why He came to us.  In chapter two we hear that Jesus: “had to become like his brothers in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” And in the second reading today: “for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin…” Twice we are told about the nature of the Son of God… that He is like us in all things but sin, that He was tempted and tested, able to sympathize with our struggles, and who suffered. In other words, God identifies Himself with us in His Son Jesus Christ in order to lift us out of the misery of sin and darkness and into relationship with Him. Jesus thus manifests to us the reality of God, of His love, mercy and grace. He shows us that a relationship with God is altogether a human reality, that love is both incarnational and divine – it is involves the unity of body and soul – theological and human. Hence, in the worship of the Church today, we use elements that touch the senses in order to lift the soul because love is a matter of body and soul. It is in the context of the Church’s worship where we come together as one family, to support and lift each other up in faith. Thus, we find the necessity of rite and ritual, fellowship and communion. And it is in this context where we respond to Christ’s invitation to love and to live in His friendship, individually and as a community.

Since God manifested Himself in Jesus Christ to show us love and unite Himself to our human nature, we know now how to love Him in a very real, human and spiritual way. We now can have communion with God through His Son. But why did He have to suffer? Why did He have to die? Could He not have done so another way? Again, the Letter to the Hebrews calls Him “high priest.” If we think about the nature of priesthood and what a priest does we gain an understanding into the mystery of His passion. A priest’s role or duty is to offer sacrifice. He offers gifts and sacrifices on behalf of the people and for himself. Jesus, called the “great high priest” seems to indicate that His priesthood is far superior to that of the Jewish high priest. This is because of the nature of His offering – Himself. Jesus is the great high priest because He offered Himself. He had nothing to gain. His sacrifice was for the expiation of the sins of people. He had no need of expiation. His offering was a complete gift of self for the salvation of all. Here, in this act of self-donation and generosity, do we learn the true meaning of love and is manifested to us the extent of God’s love for His people and His desire that we have communion with Him.

For we live in a culture of take. We may not be conscious of it, but we often ask: “what is in it for me?” We are constantly looking for the gain. We want to take for ourselves. This has shaped the nature of relationships in our society and it has an effect on our faith in God as well. We look for what we can gain from religion. This is why so many people fall away from faith and the Church. Jesus, the true Son of God, in His suffering, shows us God’s way… a way of giving, a way of generosity of heart, a way that does not seek gain but rather seeks to give. For when we give generously from the heart, God fills up that which has been emptied with grace and mercy.

We do not have to figure it out for ourselves. We do not have to make up our own religion that only meets a selfish need and therefore must not fall into the trap of “worshiping in my own way.” No, we have a God who completely identifies with us, demonstrates to us the nature of real love, and calls us to relationship with Him. On the Cross Jesus shows us His heart and the depth of His love for you, for me and indeed for all people. He asks us today to recognize Him as Lord. To do so can be extremely difficult. It means that my ego is NOT lord. The culture is NOT lord. My opinions and frivolous convictions are NOT lord. Christ is Lord. He is the great high priest who offered His body on the cross, who opened His heart for us. From His heart to ours, He has given everything – His whole self – to be in relationship with us. Will we be able to give to Him, generously from our hearts? What will we give Him in return? May we have the courage to Him ourselves and begin again a new a lasting friendship with our God and Lord – Jesus Christ. 


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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