Friday, 10 April 2009

Good Friday, Shaftesbury

I’ve always had, from my youngest days, a strong knowledge of the compassion of our Saviour. I was raised on the Sacred Heart devotion, I knew that the sign he chose to reveal of his inner life, was to show his heart –a heart on fire with love & compassion for me.

What has taken me much longer to realise is my NEED for compassion –namely my SIN, and need to be forgiven for it.
When we look at the Cross we see something truly awful, and something must have been horrendously wrong with our world to lead God to allow this to happen to him.
And that horrendously awful thing is sin, my sin, and your sin.

At the Last Supper, the apostles sat around the table of the Last Supper wondering who it was who would betray Jesus. Jesus had said one of them would betray him, and they all denied it. We know of course that Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver –but he was not the only one. As we just heard, Peter betrayed him by denying him three times. The others betrayed him by running away from him –abandoning him in the Garden.

But the points we need to remember, today, is that there is not one person here who has not betrayed him too. I have betrayed him, and you have betrayed him, by our sin. Sin is a rejection of all that God has given us –and he’s given us everything, there is nothing good that we have that does not come from him. And we re-pay him by sinning -in my thoughts, and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.

Our betrayal of him in sin leaves us standing in need of his forgiveness, and it was to bring us forgiveness that he went to the Cross. The Cross was the rejection of God, and my daily sin is a daily rejection of God. He allowed that rejection to reach its ultimate conclusion in the Cross, so that the Cross could be the means of our forgiveness. As we heard in that prophecy of Isaiah, “OURS were the sufferings he bore, OURS the sorrows he carried… on HIM lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed”(Isa 53:4-5).

When we look at the Cross and see what we have done to him, when we see that we have betrayed him, there are two choices that lie before us: the choice of Judas, or the choice of Peter.
Judas despaired, he refused to face up to what he had done, and he went out and hung himself – and we can do the same in our self-pity over our sins.

Peter took another option. He went out and wept bitterly, wept over his sins, as we too should weep over our sins. But he did not despair. He repented of his sins, and returned to the Lord –and the Lord received him back. And the Lord did more than receive him back –he placed him as head of his flock, as the prince of the apostles, as the first Pope.

The Lord died because he wants to receive each of us back. And he wants to give each of us a new redeemed glory that is better than anything we had before.

When I look at the Cross I see that God loves me –but I see more than this: I see a particular manifestation of love, and that is mercy. A mercy that forgives me. A mercy that has embraced the full horror of my rejection of him, and has overcome that rejection by his Resurrection. A triumph that offers me the grace to rise above my sins.

What I need is not the pride and despair of Judas, but the humility and repentance of Peter. A humility that accepts what I have done, but also accepts the mercy of the saviour who let me do it, and who let me do it so that he might show me the power of true forgiveness.

And there is not one person here who has not betrayed him too. I have betrayed him, and you have betrayed him, by our sin. Sin is a rejection of all that God has given us –and he’s given us everything, there is nothing good that we have that does not come from him. And we re-pay him by sinning -in my thoughts, and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.

Our betrayal of him in sin leaves us standing in need of his forgiveness, and it was to bring us forgiveness that he went to the Cross. The Cross was the rejection of God, and my daily sin is a daily rejection of God. He allowed that rejection to reach its ultimate conclusion in the Cross, so that the Cross could be the means of our forgiveness. As we heard in that prophecy of Isaiah, “OURS were the sufferings he bore, OURS the sorrows he carried… on HIM lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed”(Isa 53:4-5).

When we look at the Cross and see what we have done to him, when we see that we have betrayed him, there are two choices that lie before us: the choice of Judas, or the choice of Peter.
Judas despaired, he refused to face up to what he had done, and he went out and hung himself – and we can do the same in our self-pity over our sins.

Peter took another option. He went out and wept bitterly, wept over his sins, as we too should weep over our sins. But he did not despair. He repented of his sins, and returned to the Lord –and the Lord received him back. And the Lord did more than receive him back –he placed him as head of his flock, as the prince of the apostles, as the first Pope.

The Lord died because he wants to receive each of us back. And he wants to give each of us a new redeemed glory that is better than anything we had before.

When I look at the Cross I see that God loves me –but I see more than this: I see a particular manifestation of love, and that is mercy. A mercy that forgives me. A mercy that has embraced the full horror of my rejection of him, and has overcome that rejection by his Resurrection. A triumph that offers me the grace to rise above my sins.

1 comment:

veniteadoremus said...

Thanks for using the S-word, father. That's fairly unique (and we need it said).

I hope you are having a beautiful Triduum!