Homily Good Friday 2022 Annemarie Paulin-Campbell As we gather all around the world today to celebrate Good Friday there are perhaps three words that can help us to understand something of the hope that today holds for us; they are compassion, solidarity and accompaniment. The word compassion means to suffer with, solidarity to stand alongside and accompaniment to journey with another. And I think we are invited to see this today on a number of different levels. Firstly, today each of us has chosen to stay close to Jesus as he suffers physical, emotional and spiritual anguish - to stand with him in his suffering and to journey with him through it. Through our own personal prayer and fasting and as we pray the liturgy of the passion together as we have just heard it read now, we are in some mysterious way compassionately present to Jesus as if we ourselves were actually there at Calvary. We are helpless to stop his anguish but like Veronica and Simon of Cyrene we walk the journey with him. Like Mary his mother, John and the faithful women who stayed at the Cross to be with him, we choose to stay with him so that he can look at us and draw strength from our love. And when he is taken down from the Cross, we can be with Mary as she takes the broken body of her son into her arms for the last time. Secondly, Good Friday is also about the gift of through the Cross of knowing that Jesus stands with us and accompanies us on our own journey of suffering. Also the Father who accompanied Jesus in his passion is one with us in our own passion. Whether we are grieving a loved one, or going through a serious illness at this time, or perhaps facing rejection or betrayal in a relationship, or even failure, today we have the assurance that God chose to share our human suffering and that God in Christ stays close to us accompanying us on that journey. Lastly, as we look around our world today, we see unimaginable suffering. The sufferings of a world in which powerful regimes like the Taliban oppress the people and particularly the women of Afghanistan; the horror of war in places like Ethiopia and Ukraine. The devastating pain of leaving one’s country for a refugee existence; grinding poverty in many places, the suffering of rape, femicide and sexual abuse and of natural disasters caused by climate change. And so today we are invited to a compassionate solidarity with and accompaniment of those who suffer most. Above all, Good Friday is God’s promise that God is with our world – even our cosmos - in and through all our sufferings, including those caused by our own sinfulness. When we look at the horrors around us and cannot bear to watch the news sometimes because it is so distressing, our God does not look away. Good Friday shows that God, out of God’s immense love for us, chooses to enter into human suffering and accompanies us in it. Not only on the Cross two thousand years ago, but every single day that we as human beings, and as the Creation, experience suffering. And because we know that the agony of Good Friday is not the end for Jesus, we know that a door is opened for us too. That God’s compassionate love also stands with us and accompanies us in the suffering in the world. The theologian Elizabeth Johnson says: that “it is as if by inhabiting the inside of the isolating shell of death that Christ brings divine light into closest contact with disaster, setting up a gleam of light for all other creatures who suffer in the same annihilating darkness. In their suffering and dying they are never left alone. The cross signals that God is present in the midst of anguish, bearing every creature and all creation forward with an unimaginable promise.” This is our faith and our hope and the reason we can truly call this Friday - Good. Let us pray. O God, who by the Passion of Christ your Son, our Lord, abolished the death inherited from ancient sin by every succeeding generation, grant that just as, being conformed to him, we have been borne by the law of nature the image of the man of earth, so by the sanctification of grace we may bear the image of the man of heaven. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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