Good Friday is too solemn a day for blogging, especially about something as ephemeral as politics. But, today, with the Church besieged by scandal I hope that pastors who are called upon to preach will preach about the scandal of the Cross.

We have lost that sense of the Cross. When we see a cross atop a steeple today, it is a sign of propriety, a good neighborhood even, safety. We do not see it as the sign of rejection that it was. Jesus challenged the Law and the Law won; how easy it is to forget that Jesus had it coming, that He had violated the Laws that bound the community together, knowing the penalties for what amounted to blasphemy and sacrilege, and he went right ahead, healing on the Sabbath and disrespecting the Pharisees and Priests.

The apostles? In what Cardinal Ottaviani, at the Council, called the first instance of episcopal collegiality, they all fled.

And God? Jesus spoke of God with great intimacy as His father, even forgiving sins in His name, but that God did not come down and save His own.

And so the founder of our religion, unlike the founders of other religions, did not die at a ripe old age surrounded by loyal followers and acolytes. He died a terrible, gruesome death at a young age and utterly alone.

We celebrate Good Friday in our churches, with the lilies just out of sight in the sacristy or the choir loft. We know that the verdict of the Law and of men rendered on Good Friday was not, ultimately, God’s verdict. It is uncomfortable to think, in this utilitarian culture of ours, that Christian "ethics" and Christian "values" are not the heart of the matter. The heart of the Christian faith is here in these outrageous, extraordinary, profound and – literally – death-defying claims we Christians make, about the significance of this man’s execution. Today, think of Death Row. Today, think of the scandal of the Cross. Today, gaze upon the scandal of a Crucified God. Today, gaze upon the wood which held the Savior of the World.

Comments

john fitzmorris | 4/2/2010 - 7:26pm
To Sean Michael Winters thanks for the homily I didn't get at my Good Friday liturgy. One day I am going to actually be delighted by a homily that touches the root of the matter. Instead we were told that we were in some respect responsible as sinners for the current scandal Phew?
Bill Collier | 4/2/2010 - 5:20pm
At the risk of overkill about the Shroud, here is an excerpt from JP II’s address when he attended the public exposition of the Shroud in 1998:
 
“The Shroud is a challenge to our intelligence. It first of all requires of every person, particularly the researcher, that he humbly grasp the profound message it sends to his reason and his life. The mysterious fascination of the Shroud forces questions to be raised about the sacred Linen and the historical life of Jesus. Since it is not a matter of faith, the Church has no specific competence to pronounce on these questions. She entrusts to scientists the task of continuing to investigate, so that satisfactory answers may be found to the questions connected with this Sheet, which, according to tradition, wrapped the body of our Redeemer after he had been taken down from the cross. The Church urges that the Shroud be studied without pre-established positions that take for granted results that are not such; she invites them to act with interior freedom and attentive respect for both scientific methodology and the sensibilities of believers.
 
For the believer, what counts above all is that the Shroud is a mirror of the Gospel. In fact, if we reflect on the sacred Linen, we cannot escape the idea that the image it presents has such a profound relationship with what the Gospels tell of Jesus' passion and death, that every sensitive person feels inwardly touched and moved at beholding it. Whoever approaches it is also aware that the Shroud does not hold people's hearts to itself, but turns them to him, at whose service the Father's loving providence has put it. Therefore, it is right to foster an awareness of the precious value of this image, which everyone sees and no one at present can explain. For every thoughtful person it is a reason for deep reflection, which can even involve one's life. The Shroud is thus a truly unique sign that points to Jesus, the true Word of the Father, and invites us to pattern our lives on the life of the One who gave himself for us.”
 
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/travels/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_24051998_sindone_en.html
 
For the first time in the 10 years, the Shroud will be on public exposition in Turin for 6 weeks beginning on April 10th. Tickets are free, but they must be pre-ordered. As of the last time I looked, there were already orders for more than a million tickets.
Bill Collier | 4/2/2010 - 2:33pm
"Today, gaze upon the scandal of a Crucified God. Today, gaze upon the wood which held the Savior of the World."
Well-wrought words, and if I might anticipate our gaze upon the Risen Christ in about 36 hours from now, I'd like to recommend the History Channel's two-hour special on the Shroud of Turin. The program was shown earlier this week, and it is to be re-broadcast Saturday evening. (Check local listings of course.) IMO, an eminently fair and worthwhile program about the world's most mysterious image and history's most studied artifact. The special focuses on the 3D coding contained in the image as a team of graphic artists and scientists use computer technology to create a visual depiction of what Jesus may have looked like. (Spoiler alert: you'll see the remarkable depiction at the end of the show.) The special also gives background on the history of the Shroud and on controversies surrounding it, including the 1988 carbon dating of the linen and why the results may have been skewed. This is not a tabloid treatment of the Shroud; instead, the participants are serious scientists, scholars, and artists. Highly recommended! Even if one is not a believer that the Shroud is the actual burial cloth of Christ, you'll come away with a deeper appreciation of the Passion.
I'd also like to recommend a new book on the Shroud, called, interestingly enough, "The Shroud," by Australian writer Ian Wilson. Wilson, too, is no sensationalist, and he has the great ability to digest the mountains of scientific research on the Shroud-in the fields of, for example, geology, linen science, biochemistry, forensic pathology, and botany-and to relate the results in a very thorough and readable style. Wilson develops his theory that the Shroud and the "Image of Edessa," a  linen well-known in the eastern portions of the Roman Empire and its immediate aftermath, are one and the same. If he is correct, and IMO he makes a compelling argument, then the provenance of the Shroud is traceable to more than a thousand years before the 13th/14th century date placed on the Shroud by the carbon dating.
But judge for yourself. I think you'll also come to the conclusion that either the Shroud is the greatest forgery ever created (it is actually a photographic negative that is not clearly seen until photographs of it are developed. Would a medieval forger have known about photography, and, better yet, would he/she have thought to trick people in the 21st century?), or the Shroud is exactly what it appears to be, the burial cloth of Jesus described in the Gospels. If the latter, then the implications are extraordinary.  
 
 
 
Michael Bindner | 4/2/2010 - 12:44pm
I have done two meditations on Good Friday in the past. I serialized the second one on my KOS/Street Prophets Page, but I warn you, it is a bit provocative (and was done before I started using spellcheck in blogspot). Read it here: http://xianleft.blogspot.com/2008/03/damnation-trial-of-jesus-of-nazareth.html#links
Anonymous | 4/2/2010 - 11:23am
MSW thank you.. it will be our thoughts at the three hours.
Beth Cioffoletti | 4/2/2010 - 9:14am
thank you for this, MSW.
There are a few emails going around this week showing the Scandal of the Cross which is carried in the world today.  Especially powerful (and powerfully sad) is a Spanish power point slideshow with photographs of extreme poverty corresponding to each station of the Cross. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9fdQF-m-hY
 
A few years ago a friend of mine and I put together stations showing the suffering of war in the world. http://stationsofcross.blogspot.com/
 
And, as you say, those on Death Row, walk the same road as Jesus did on Calvary. 
 
The reality of the crucifixion of Christ lives/dies on.  The Scandal.