HOMILY OF BISHOP STEVEN J RAICA
GOOD FRIDAY - MARCH 25, 2016
Normally on this day, March 25, the Church commemorates the Solemnity of the Annunciation – that privileged occasion when the Archangel Gabriel informs Mary that she is to be come the Mother of God. At that time, she is young. I also imagine that she is bewildered – wondering what this greeting meant! Yet, in spite of the familial and societal problems that could occur in such an unexpected pregnancy for an unmarried young lady, she responds in full faith: “Let it be done to me as you say.”
We know that her life was an unusual one. Yet today we have the presence of Mary again. This time, we find Mary along the route of the way of the cross and then alone with John at the foot of the cross. She was never far from him. There is consolation in that closeness even today. We know that whenever we seek her out, our Lord is not distant from her. It is almost as if we speak with her and he overhears.
Today, on this Good Friday, we turn our attention to the saving act of love that Jesus has for us. His was a body beaten, broken, yet full of love. Few, if any, at that time understood really the full import of what was taking place. Only later were they able to cobble together the significance of those final moments and record them for us to reflect upon.
As Mary responded to the angel Gabriel, “Let it be done to me as you say.” So now our Lord echoes a similar sentiment in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Take this cup away from me … Father, not as I will, but your will be done.” There was always this connection with the Father throughout his ministry. He was frequently in prayer and conversation with His Father. He prayed intensely that He wanted to do only what the Father wanted Him to do. He did so out of utter and total obedience to God’s will.
Now, we see Mary at the foot of the cross and we hear our Lord address the beloved disciple John with her. “Behold your mother!” And then turning to John, He tells him “Behold your mother!" Through it all, she accepted God’s will without complaint. Not understanding the fullness of what was taking place, I’m sure she could have objected as well. But, instead, she accompanied him -- full of sorrow, full of trust, full of a motherly anguish at what was happening that seemed beyond her control to protect and defend the son she loved so very much.
On this day we ask ourselves, "What is the Lord asking of me? Do I pray in my life: let your will be done to me? Let your plan for me be fulfilled? Do I believe what I pray when I say, “Our Father, who art in heaven … your will be done?” not my will? Do I, like John at the foot of the crosses in my life, behold Mary as mother -- and let her behold and embrace me as a son or daughter of God?"
We know that because of her “Yes” to God at the Annunciation, that Jesus took on our flesh. “the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us!” Do we believe that, as a result of our “yes” to the invitation of Christ to “follow Him”, we have “put on Christ,” as St Paul says? Do we live for Him now? Like John, we are the son or daughter who is loved so very much that we are not reduced to what others may say of us, but are called to something great that we have yet to comprehend.
So on this day we are reminded of the “Yes” of Mary at the time of the annunciation and the “Yes” of Christ at the moment of our salvation. Just as through Mary’s “Yes,” the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” so, too, through Jesus’ “Yes”, we see that “God so loved the world that – through the yes of Mary – he gave us His Son, not so that we might perish, but so that we may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16).
May we honor the cross today, not as an instrument of defeat, but as our only hope for giving us life eternal.
We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world!
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