GOOD FRIDAY
Friday, April 14
FATHER THOMAS J. SMITH
Seminary Faculty, Advisor and
Assistant Spiritual Director

 

According to Your Word

 

Bottom line: Standing at the foot of the cross with Mary, we renew the pledge to God: May it be done to me according to your word.

 

This Good Friday we stand with Mary at the foot of the cross. At her side is the beloved disciple, John. Jesus first says to Mary, "Woman, behold your son." Then to the disciple who represents all the baptized, Jesus says, "Behold, your mother."

 

For Mary, this must have been a deeply emotional moment. Perhaps she recalled the first instance when she received Jesus into her womb, the moment when she said to the angel, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."  She could not have guessed it would come to this. Here she was standing before her tortured Son, hearing the insults thrown at Him. Perhaps they even tossed insults at her. In that culture, one of ugliest ways to offend someone was to insult their mother. She may have asked herself, how could it come to this?

 

Like Mary, when we say yes to God's plan, we do not know where it will lead us.

 

I remember the day I pledged myself to God when first I accepted His call to be a priest. Especially on Good Friday, I remember the day of my ordination because part of the ceremony involved prostrating myself on the floor as the priest and servers do at the beginning of the Good Friday Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord. When I said “yes” to God, I did not know where it would lead. In my case, these have been overall good and happy years. For whatever reason, maybe because He knows what a coward I really am, God had mingled in my journey to the Lord’s altar some suffering so that I too could experience the cross in a unique way. I could see the cross witnessed in other people's lives whom I might serve better in the years to come. At the same time, I am aware that most of what I have suffered came because of my own failings and sins.

 

When we stand at the foot of the cross with Mary and St. John, I believe that all of us are aware to some degree of our sins. Those sins have put Jesus on the cross; He is suffering on our behalf. But we are not just aware of our faults. We recognize something much more important, the Divine Mercy. Standing before the cross, we realize that the Divine Mercy is like an ocean, an ocean that absorbs all of our pollution and corruption. Saint Pope John Paul, II, the Great, said; “Divine Mercy is the limit that God places on human evil. The ocean, immense as it is, can only absorb so much. It cannot protect us from all of our human excesses. But that is not the case with the Divine Mercy. If we turn toward Him, He will take our misery upon Himself; He will absorb the punishment our sins deserve.”

 

Now, this does not mean we merrily continue to sin, any more than we should thoughtlessly pollute the ocean and the atmosphere. What we need to do is to renew our pledge to the Lord. We could well use Mary's words, "I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."

 

Heavenly Father, You gave us Mary no only as the vessel by which Your Son was brought forth into this world, but as an example of faith, trust and devotion in Your Divine Mercy. Help each of us by Your Grace to be like Mary; a true disciple of Your Son, so that we can say in her words, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”  We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

 

Is 52:13-53: 12   Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25   Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9   Jn 18:1-19:42