March 25,2016 – Good Friday Click on this blue link to read more about today’s Liturgy.
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Passion of John 18:1-19:42
“Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name .” (Philippians 2:8 FF)
Today is very different since this is the only day throughout the entire Church year where “Mass” is not celebrated! In the ‘old days’ they called it the “Mass of the Pre-sanctified” and it was done with everything except the words of consecration. Only one consecrated host was saved from the Holy Thursday Mass and it was only the one priest who received Holy Communion. Now a days, it’s the one time when everyone – Popes, cardinals down to the person in the pew – receive Holy Communion from bread consecrated at the Mass of Holy Thursday.
Yet still, the main focus of the liturgy for Good Friday is on the cross with that familiar response, “Behold the wood of the Cross on which hung the savior of the world. Come let us worship!” This part of the Liturgy is sandwiched between a solemn proclamation of the Passion from John’s Gospel and the reception of Holy Communion. It’s one of only two times – the other is Ash Wednesday – when everybody in the congregation can come forward to the altar regardless of their particular status vies-a-vie the Church. That, in itself, is an interesting commentary of what the Church is all about.
When I was in Kenya our congregation is small enough that everybody could come forward to reverence the one cross, which was formally presented. Another sign of the oneness that God desires for His Church. Here at St. Dominic’s in San Francisco I’m sure that we will have a “standing room only” congregation for this celebration. Another sign of the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ!
I hope you can read this reflection before you go to your own church for the liturgy so that you might have some new insights into the very unique form that our Good Friday Liturgy offers us. I hope, that as you listen to the dramatic reading of the Passion, you can close your eyes and envision what is happening. (As an aside: that’s why I’m not in favor of having the congregating try to take the parts of the crowd where their main focus becomes worrying about not missing their cue rather than listening to this very central story of our faith.) Remember the words that were spoken from Heaven at the Baptism of Jesus, “This is my beloved son, listen to him!”
In John’s Gospel, Jesus is in control: “he knew everything that was going to happen to him” When He asks the soldiers who they are looking for His response is the simple, “I AM” – the name of God that Moses was given on the mountain. And even as He is about to be arrested, that simple name is enough that the soldiers turned away and fell to the ground.
There is so much more in this Gospel but I’ll have to leave that for you to discover. Again, closing your eyes can be a great advantage to entering into the fullness of this liturgy of Good Friday. Amen!