GOOD FRIDAY YEAR A
10th April 2020
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42.
The Good Friday liturgy focuses on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Passion reading from the gospel according to St. John tells of his unjust accusation, condemnation, suffering and crucifixion. It is the shameful story of the human violence at its highest. It is our human violence that crucified Jesus Christ on the cross. Fortunately for us, the wisdom of this crucifixion is what will save us, especially in the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The civil crisis at the time of Jesus Christ is similar to the current covid-19 pandemic. The people sought for explanation and solution from the leaders, especially the religious leaders. In order to conceal the temple corruption, the Jewish religious leadership violently accused Jesus Christ as the source of the crisis. According to the gospel, it was Caiaphas who had suggested to the Jews, ‘It is better for one man to die for the people.’ Caiaphas made this statement as the high priest, thereby giving it the force and authority required to instigate the people against Jesus Christ. This fulfils the words of the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: By force and by law he was taken; would anyone plead his cause?
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic are so many conspiracy theories in the media. These theories create fear and panic in the life of Christians. But the Church remains resolute in following Jesus Christ the Master. The Church in her wisdom sticks to the wisdom of the cross. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Our Lord was harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth. The Church, unlike the biblical Jewish religious leaders, called for prayer and penance in time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Like Jesus Christ, the Church understood that its as a result of human violence that we have come to this lockdown.
In the Pope’s recent extraordinary “urbi et orbi” message to the city of Rome and the world, he said; “Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste. We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet. We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.” Pope Francis went further to tell us that the fear of Covid-19 exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities. The pope called for prayers by reminding us that it is not the time of God’s judgement on us, but our time to choose what is right. In his words, “It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others”.
We are blessed to be part of the Universal Church that is attentive to her Lord and Master. Our fears are unfounded! This is because Covid-19 is our violence that has boomeranged at us. It calls for a change in our lifestyles. The lockdown is a blessing in disguise because it gives us the opportunity to make a self-examination geared towards positive change. Our hope is that we shall resurrect with Christ on Easter Sunday morning as renewed and faithful Christians.
Fr Anthony Ekpunobi, CM.