Today’s Thoughts: “To be evangelizers of souls, we need to develop a spiritual taste for being close to people’s lives and to discover that this is itself a source of greater joy. Mission is at once a passion for Jesus and a passion for his people. When we stand before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love which exalts and sustains us, but at the same time, unless we are blind, we begin to realize that Jesus’ gaze, burning with love, expands to embrace all his people. We realize once more that he wants to make use of us to draw closer to his beloved people. He takes us from the midst of his people and he sends us to his people; without this sense of belonging we cannot understand our deepest identity.” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospel)
Pope Francis’ words remind us today of what the Cross is all about. He asks us to stand before the Cross of Christ today. He asks us to see and feel the depth of God’s love, of Jesus’ love for us. We are reminded that Christ’s love cannot remain just within us but that it is to be shared!
As I reflected on John’s Passion (John 18: 1-19:42) and the other readings (Isaiah 52: 13- 53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5: 7-9;) that we encounter in today’s liturgy I began to think about the image of gesture that Pope Francis used in his Holy Thursday homily yesterday. He said the Last Supper reading provide us with two gestures. Jesus’ gesture of love and service and Judas’ gesture hate. Perhaps as we take time in prayer with St. John’s Passion today there is one gesture that can be seen two ways.
The gesture of love or the gesture of hate. The gesture of mercy or the gesture of violence. The gesture of compassion or the gesture of indifference. What gesture do we see and live when we gaze into the eyes of Jesus on Good Friday?
The words of Pope Francis that I began with remind me of why I am a Passionist. Each day as I arise I try to stand before the Cross of Christ and I look through the lens of his Passion to see his burning love. Each time I put on my habit and attach the simple sign that only Passionists wear I am reminded that Christ great love must be in my heart. Each time I wander into a new day I am reminded because of that sign over my heart that I am to bring Christ unrelenting love to every person that I meet. Because I am a Passionist and a man of faith I am connected to Christ’s Passion story.
I think we all need to find our own way of connecting to the Passion story. We have to find our own way to understand, to feel, the mystery of Jesus' Passion. We have to make the connection with the characters of the story and with Jesus. We might not understand but we need to make the connection, we need to feel the story. We need to find our own liturgy sometimes.
At this point in life as I pause to keep Good Friday holy I am truly blessed and honored to be a Passionist and a priest so often I am privileged to lead a community in the liturgy of the Lord's Passion or like this year I have the honor of preaching, of sharing the Good News on this day. I get to help others look through the lens of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
My friends in faith, however you remember the Lord's Passion of this Good Friday my prayer for you is that the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ will always be in your heart!
Good Friday peace and blessings to all! I hope you will at least make a visit to Church today, take a little time to sit before the Cross of Christ, and remember God’s great love for you!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...