Fr. Bryan Howard
Good Friday Solemn Service of the Lord’s Passion – 19 April 2019
Who is Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is our Savior. He came to save us from sin and death and He accomplished that salvation through His Cross. We just heard the account from the Gospel of John about how Jesus was arrested, condemned, and crucified. The innocent died for the sake of the guilty, and the just one for the unjust so that He might justify us.
The Letter to the Hebrews says, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Jesus Christ, even in His humanity, was obedient to the will of God and willingly took up the Cross. Some people try to explain the Cross by saying that Jesus when Jesus took our sins on Himself God poured out all of His wrath on Jesus instead of on us. No, that’s not it at all. It wasn’t Christ’s suffering that God desired, but His obedience in love. The Cross isn’t a sign of God’s wrath, but of His unimaginable love for us. The obedience of Christ undid the disobedience of Adam. Whereas Adam refused to stand between the serpent, Satan, and his bride, Eve, Jesus, through the Cross, does stand between Satan and His bride, the Church. “Greater love than this has no man, that he lay down his life for his friends.” At the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples, who stand in for us, “I no longer call you servants, but my friends.”
The Prophet Isaiah said, “Through His suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” Jesus did much more than just take the punishment for our sins on Himself; through the Cross He wants to give us the ability to love as He loves, to follow His example and not Adam’s.
As Jesus Himself told His disciples, “And I, when I am lifted up, will draw all to myself.” Jesus is our Savior by drawing us out of sin and into the love of God. So, take up your Cross, and follow after Him. The only way to grow in the love of God, to learn to love as He loves, is to do it. We have to push ourselves to love more and better. We have to be willing to go into uncomfortable circumstances to help someone, to make ourselves vulnerable for others, to show our love for those who are the most difficult to love. Jesus didn’t say that we have to like anyone, but He did say that we have to love everyone, and that is to be dedicated to doing good for others. St. Therese of Lisieux spoke often about her Little Way, which was to be willing to do little things for God in love, and she wasn’t all talk either. After she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 her autobiography was published, The Story of a Soul. In it she talks about one of the other nuns who always got on her nerves. She just didn’t get along with her. So, she made this nun her best friend, spending a lot of time with her, talking to her, doing their work together, and other things like that. Apparently, when she read about that, this other nun wasn’t offended but was deeply touched.
St. Therese shows us that you don’t have to be rich or powerful or famous, or even a priest or nun, to make a difference in someone’s life and in the world, you just have to love like God loves.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.