Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Good Friday
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
March 29th, 2013
Year C

Mauricio and Claudia had been courting for almost a year. They were the perfect match and had a bright future. Mauricio was ready to propose but he wanted to wait until May, their favorite month. Then Claudia broke the news to him. What had looked like mild asthma was really cystic fibrosis and the doctors were projecting that she had less than a year to live. Mauricio was crushed. All his dreams of a long, happy life raising a family with Claudia vanished instantly. He spent that night tossing and turning, not knowing what to do. In the morning he went to Mass to find an answer. When he got to the church, he knelt in the last pew, took one look at the crucifix, and started to cry. He knew what he had to do and when he received Holy Communion, he asked Christ for the strength to do it. After work he met with Claudia. He said to her: “Claudia, I had wanted to ask you to marry me this May, but I don't think that will work now.” Claudia buried her face in her hands, devastated. Mauricio took her hand and said, “Why don't we have the wedding next month, in January? Will you marry me?” She looked up, with tears streaming down her cheeks and embraced him. After their honeymoon Claudia's health steadily declined, in spite of the doctor's heroic efforts. Soon she had to move permanently to the hospital. Mauricio never left her side. Day and night he watched over and cared for her. That May, four months after their wedding, she died in his arms.

In a similar way, I think, we can replace this couple with Mary and Jesus. Jesus, of course, is the one who suffers and Mary is the one by His side the entire time. Both give testimony to the true meaning of love – the total surrender of self for another, the gift of self and the reception of that gift. Like the love between Claudia and Mauricio, the cross is said to be a marriage bed – a union of hearts and souls. On the cross, Jesus gives of Himself totally, spilling every last drop of His blood. Mary, stands at His feet and in the pain of her heart, receives that gift – the self-donation of her Son. She, therefore, stands as representative of the whole Church and John, standing with her, represents the offspring of the Church. It is the Bridegroom giving of Himself for His Bride, the Church, giving life to us all. Life is made manifest at the cross.

It is the notion of gift, of self-donation that I would like to reflect on for a moment. The dictionary describes a ‘gift’ as a present, a contribution, or a donation. It is the act of thinking less of oneself and more of another. And when we give gifts to each other we do so to bring the light of joy to another person’s heart. We do so to give them life. Naturally, therefore, we could say that to give of oneself, even in the material sense, involves death. Isn’t it true, however, that we seek life for ourselves as well? We seek that which brings happiness and joy to our hearts and souls. Would not this mean that we too are called to give of ourselves – to die? Is this not what echoes from the cross? The scene itself paints a ghastly picture that reeks of a pain and suffering so immense that one could hardly bear to view it. But yet, there is something different about this death. No one has ever died like Jesus Christ. He submits Himself totally, freely, and with a sensitive heart. He does so out of love. What is different about this death? The difference is the outcome – the fruit of this man’s death is the Life that He offers through it. “Greater love no man has than this, to lay down his life for his friends.” Now do we begin to understand that this horrific event was necessary.  “Everything he suffered”, says St. Augustine “was the price of our ransom.” This death is a gift, a love-gift.

And are we not going to respond to this gift? How do we receive it? Are we going to jeer at Him, as many did? Are we going to be part of the crowd that was calling for His execution? Are going to be those who just walk by and ignore the gruesome sight? Or will we respond in kind? “I left you an example,” Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper. Love. His words mean nothing without Good Friday – the Last Supper has no meaning with the agony of the Cross. His words are verified and His vow is consummated on the marriage bed of the cross. How will we respond? Fr. John Tauler, a Dominican Friar of the 14th century, helps us to understand and to answer:

“Out of death comes life that dies no more… If water is to become hot, then the cold must die out of it. If wood is to be made fire, then the nature of wood must die. The life we seek cannot be in us, it cannot become our very selves, we cannot be itself, unless we gain it by first ceasing to be what we are; we acquire this life through death.”

What Fr. Tauler speaks of is simply one death and one life. This death is the death to our will, the sense that we own ourselves. There is one life – uncreated, divine life. In death, therefore, we hurry toward this life. Though we may experience many deaths in our lifetime, the more we die the one death, the nearer we come to the one life and the more truly do we live. It almost seems illogical but to modern man, surely it is indeed so. Not to the Christian, however. To the Christian this is precisely the means to life. This death brings about a union of hearts – our hearts to God’s. For this death is really a gift because it is love.

Unless we learn to be gift and to love – to die that one death – we will remain spiritually paralyzed. Therefore, when we come to adore our Lord’s glorious cross, we must do so with firm resolution. We must approach Him with hearts that open to receive the precious, life-giving sacrifice of Christ and be willing to open our hearts totally to Him in an exchange of love. Jesus invites us to greater divine intimacy by way of death – a death that is a gift, the gift of divine love, divine life. Jesus’ self-gift, His self-donation was total, complete, free, an act of pure love; so He invites us to be a gift, He invites us to imitate His love and so be united to His heart. For it is in this death to self, in the total, complete, and free gift of self to Jesus where we find true life for souls.

Permit me then, to add how we may offer ourselves. How do we become gift? How do we love God? It begins by echoing the words of Mary: “fiat voluntas tua.” A simple “yes.” While it may seem too easy, this is where our death begins. In our “yes” to being a gift to Jesus, He begins to take control over our lives and leads us to the joy and happiness of the cross. This is where He touches our hearts and we become more closely united to His own, pierced Heart. 













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.



See other homilies of Fr. Jon Reardon...
Return to multimedia home...


SCTJM logo
Return to main page