Good morning on this good Friday,
For those of you who are not familiar, good Friday is the day that Jesus was crucified. It’s the epicentre of our Christian faith where God became man and literally offered His life for us.
(Cross outside the Carmelites in High Street Kensington).
Jesus’ death opened the gates of salvation to us and provided us with a way to get to heaven. Jesus Himself said that “I am the way, the truth and the life”.
Saint Augustine once said that God made us without our will but will not save us without our will.
In others words we have to make a conscious choice to choose heaven through following Jesus to the best of our ability.
For many this is where good Friday becomes bad Friday as they hear about the call to conversion and the way of the cross.
Salvation in the next life comes from following Jesus in this one and with many crosses. It is not an easy journey and from a business point of view it’s not an easy product to market.
Yet this is our Christian hope and is why the ministry of evangelisation is so difficult and so far removed from worldly marketing.
Some churches and Christians try to sanitize good Friday and indeed the message of the gospel by putting an over-emphasis on God’s mercy and Jesus’ death and dramatically playing down our part and what Jesus is asking of us in response to His death.
The result is a christianity without power, without zeal and without christ.
“The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord” according to the book of proverbs. This fear isn’t supposed to be a terrorising fear but rather a call not to take God for granted.
Countless saints and mystics down through the ages have had revelations about the realities of hell and purgatory. In Fatima Our Lady spoke of the large quantities of souls going to hell and in Medjugorje she implores us to pray for the conversion of souls before it’s too late.
The catechism of the catholic church is explicitly clear on this:
1035 The Church in her teaching affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. The souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin, after the death immediately descended to the underworld, where the pains of hell suffer, “the eternal fire.” 631 Main punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in which only men can have life and happiness for which it was created, and which aspires.
1036 Statements of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church concerning the hell is an appeal to the responsibility with which man must use his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. Constitute at the same time an urgent call to conversion: “Enter the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and wide the path that leads to destruction, and many are those who come to it, how close is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and how few are those who find”.
And so we see that Good Friday is not only good, it is a responsibility for us personally and for others around us.
Fortunately Jesus didn’t leave it there! He gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit who will act in us and through us if we let Him.
Just as the Holy Spirit led Jesus, He will lead us and teach us and reveal things to us.
For those of us open to more, just as in the acts of the apostles the Spirit will perform miracles through us and make us bold and courageous in preaching and testifying of Jesus.
He will give us the strength we need to face those who oppose us, He will give us a simple love for Jesus and for prayer and He will give us a love and passion for the church too.
Perhaps the greatest gift the Holy Spirit can bestow on any human being is the gift of the priesthood and the calling to follow Jesus in this extraordinary way.
This is why Our Lady in Medjugorje is always asking us to pray for priests who are forever being tempted to fall off track by Satan.
The priests is given a special public ministry and so his example not only affects him but affects all around him. This is a great responsibility and a very difficult calling in today’s world where many priests are so terribly criticized and abused when they stay faithful to church teaching and to the gospel.
And so today, good Friday, let us pray indeed that it is and will be a good Friday.
Let us ask Jesus to come into the corners of our hearts where we are not following Him, where we are caught in addictions or fears or compromise.
Let us pray to Our Lady and to Saint Peter that we may have the strength to face the crosses of our lives and the humility to turn back when we don’t.
Let us keep in mind the Christians who are being persecuted all over the world too as we pray for the renewal of our church and lots of holy and zealous priests full of faith, hope, love and truth
“Come Holy Spirit, renew us, teach us, heal us, guide us. Give us a love for Jesus and the gospel greater than all our fears and inhibitions. Make us and mould us into the image of Jesus and especially bless and strengthen all your faithful priests struggling under the weight of the cross”