March 29,2024

Deacon Tim Papa Homily
It Is Fulfilled

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion

Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42

Last year on Good Friday, I talked about the Seven Words of Christ. This is a popular devotion for Holy Week aimed at studying and praying over the seven things that are recorded in the gospels that Jesus said while he was on the cross. I would like to expand on my homily from yesterday’s Holy Thursday Mass, where I discussed the institution of the new and everlasting covenant. At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us a sign of the new covenant, the sacrament of the Eucharist. Communion is the recurring memorial of Christ’s initiation of the new covenant between God and his people, a remembrance of his sacrifice which purchased our salvation. Today, on Good Friday, we could discuss one of the words from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” [Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34], but it turns out that this word points as much or more to Easter as it does Good Friday, and I will discuss this one at the Easter Vigil Mass. Today, let us look at the last word from the cross, one we just heard in John’s Gospel, just before Jesus died: “It is finished” [Jn 19:30 NABRE].

Now this is the translation that we use at Mass. Biblical scholars will point out that that this is a perfectly good translation, but the original Greek words also carry a meaning of “it is fulfilled,” or “it is accomplished.” In other words, Jesus is telling us that something is not only finished, but he also is telling us that he has succeeded or realized something he set out to do, something larger than just living his life. What he has fulfilled is his mission, the purpose that he came down to earth to do for us. Last weekend, we discussed one of the ways you can briefly state this mission: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” [John 3:16] This is his mission; this is what he has finished; this is what he has fulfilled. We will celebrate the great salvation that this has won for us on Easter, but today we recognize the cost: the suffering and passion of Jesus Christ.

This is always proper for us to do, not just during Holy Week, but it is especially important at this moment for those of us who are going through suffering in our own lives. In this short year which is not yet three months old, I have heard from so many people in our parish going through difficulties: cancer diagnosis and other health issues, substance abuse and relapses of loved ones, marriage issues, mental health issues – you name it. The good news that we worship an awesome God who knows what we go through. He went through, if not the same thing, something that was as bad or worse.

A few parishioners asked me a few weeks ago how offering up our suffering worked, what did it do. I had to admit that I didn’t know, either from a theological perspective or a personal perspective. From a person perspective, I’ve shared with you that I consider myself a blessed man. I’ve had my share of things that happened that I didn’t want or things that failed to happen that I did want, but I can say that I’ve not experienced a fraction of what some people go through in this life. And from a theological perspective, I can’t say that I understand this mystery, any more than I understand other mysteries such as the full nature of the Trinity or how the Eucharist can be truly the body and blood of Christ and still look like bread and wine. But I do know that all of these things are true. The first reading today, the fourth Suffering Servant song of the prophet Isaiah, tells us that it is real, that Jesus could and did take on our transgressions and through his suffering made atonement to God for all of us. In the same way, we too can offer up our suffering for others, and God will hear our petition. How offering up our hardships in life for others works, I do not know; that it works, there can be no doubt.

We as a Church will, as part of our service today, offer up special intercessions to God. We will do so right after the homily before the veneration of the cross. There are ten of them, and they are called the Solemn Intercessions. We will pray that God will bless our Church, our pope, all of the faithful, and various groups outside of our church. The final intercession is for all people undergoing suffering in this world. Let us then, on this very important day of the year, pray for those who are undergoing any type of painful trauma, including praying for ourselves if we are in this situation. Jesus suffered, and God delivered him – it was fulfilled. We believe that God will also deliver us – it too will be fulfilled. This is the most fundamental belief of our faith. Just as with Jesus, if we believe, if we have faith that he fulfilled the will of God, our own personal Good Fridays will also turn into an eternal Easter one day.


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