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Friday, April 2nd, 2021

‘Exauditus pro reverentia’: a Sermon for Good Friday

In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5).

After a brief rest, in a moment’s time we will begin the Solemn Intercessions. And it is fitting that we should do this. After all, imagine what you might do if you had been standing before the Cross on that first Good Friday. You would not try to stop the crucifixion; a cohort of Roman legionaries would have made that impossible for you. You would not yell in protest or make eloquent speeches about non-violence; your voice would not be heard over the rest of the crowd. But you would have a choice to make: you would have to decide whether you were with that Man on the Cross, or against him.

Now those of you here today have decided that you are with that Man. And if you were beneath his Cross and with him, then the only thing that would have been left for you to do is to pray. Perhaps you would try to give comfort to Our Lady as she stood beneath the Cross; or perhaps stood with St John in place of the other apostles. But, in the last analysis, you would have prayed.        

And you would do so fittingly because the Holy Cross is the decisive moment of human history; it is the sign and mystery that will determine history. We tend to forget this. The death of Jesus Christ upon the Cross is not a supplement to human history; it is not a supplement—not an ornament—to our personal history. It is the center of the universe around which everything turns.     

And so before the Cross, Catholics pray. In truth, we do this at every Holy Mass: but we do so especially today. We pray because we want everyone to put themselves before this mystery; no detail of human life must be separated from it. Because it is as St Paul says: ‘When he was in the flesh, Christ offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears.’ And as we just heard, Our Lord himself prayed while upon the Cross.

Thus today, we join our prayers to his, and we can be assured of a hearing. Take seriously, dear friends, the offering of the prayers you make in this moment. The world depends upon it.

 

 


{Art Credit: El Greco, St Francis in Prayer before the Crucified (1585-1590); Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.}

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