Goodness – Jett Villarin SJ

Good Friday 2015

Somehow, somewhere there is goodness to be found in the ruins of today.

 

In searching for that goodness, let us be honest. It is not easy to find goodness in the terrible things of today. It is not easy to draw clarity from the confusion, to sift through the turbulence and find serenity, to discern grace from the disgrace of the cross. It is not easy to gaze at an icon of condemnation and to believe that there fastened on those crossing beams lies our redemption.

 

So much is lost in the execution of today: human kindness, dignity, courage, hope, blood, life, even God. Today, God is taken from our hands by our own hand. In our self-righteousness and pride, we thought we were sparing others the blasphemy and delusion of this Christ. This our blindness is tragic. Losing God, we only lose ourselves. It can be wearisome to seek goodness in all that is lost today.

 

Contemplating the man who is our God on his way to his crucifixion, there is it seems only anxiety, pain, anger, sadness, and confusion.

We can give up, we can give in. We can say the goodness of Good Friday is an illusion. We look at the crown of thorns on his head, the welts from the lashing, the carrying of the cross we alone had brought upon ourselves, the humiliation and the agony of dying crucified, and we say, walang bait sa araw na ito (there is no sanity on this day), walang kabaitan sa araw na ito.

 

We can give up, we can give in. But our faith dares us to look again and again for goodness, for kindness, for love, not on some other day than this, but on this day itself, this day we call Good Friday. And so with that intuition of faith, we keep looking. Pope Francis tells us (as he told that little girl at UST) that there are certain realities that can only be seen by eyes that have been cleansed with tears. And so let us weep, let us grieve and mourn for what we have lost, for who we have lost, for all the things we have yet to lose. Let us face our own longing; let us face futility and agony and defeat; let us not deny the pain or anger or confusion or sadness. Let us not be afraid to shed tears and be cleansed by sorrow.

 

Let us look again and again at Christ on the cross. Today, let us turn our attention and our lives not on our selves (not on our sins, our rebellion, our hardness of heart). Let us look again at him and this singular act of self-emptying love.

 

You may ask: where is the love here? It is there in Christ’s response to our blindness and rebellion and hardness of heart. It is there in the non-retaliation, in the absorption of blows, in the unrequited momentum of mercy. Love is there in the silence before all that is unspeakable about our hatred and envy.

 

There is nothing passive about this love. On the cross, there is only active surrender. There is goodness on this day only because of love’s power to stay, the power of love to offer life in return for death, the power of love to promise paradise instead of condemnation.

 

You may ask: where is the redemption here? It is there in the totality of the oblation, in the self-emptying, in being emptied of everything, of life even. The redemption is in the totality, the wholeness of God’s love for us. On the cross, we discover that love is not tentative or provisional or proportional or reciprocal. On the cross, we realize that love redeems us by staying with us to the very end. By the wounds of this love, we are healed.

 

Somehow, somewhere there is goodness to be found in the ruins of today.

 

Let us not be afraid to go with Christ to the place of surrender and oblation and redeeming love.

 

Isaiah 52

As the crowds were appalled on seeing him

– so disfigured did he look

that he seemed no longer human –

so will the crowds be astonished at him,

and kings stand speechless before him;

for they shall see something never told

and witness something never heard before:

‘Who could believe what we have heard,

and to whom has the power of the Lord been revealed?’

 

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us,

like a root in arid ground.

Without beauty, without majesty we saw him,

no looks to attract our eyes;

a thing despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,

a man to make people screen their faces;

he was despised and we took no account of him.

 

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,

ours the sorrows he carried.

But we, we thought of him as someone punished,

struck by God, and brought low.

Yet he was pierced through for our faults,

crushed for our sins.

On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,

and through his wounds we are healed.

3 April 2015

The Cenacle, Good Friday Service

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