Homily: Good Friday, April 3, 2015
GOOD FRIDAY, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter
There’s a story behind this Gethsemane picture.
I tend to rummage around in antique malls and flea markets a lot.
On my way to see my father in Missouri in mid December
I stopped for a driving break
And found this picture.
Little did I know at the time- that 3 months later
I’d be leading a church which bears this image
Front and center.
Time line wise-
I know any discussion of Gethsemane should have been last night.
Late on Thursday night,
our Lord departs the Upper Room after the Last Supper
in increasing isolation and loneliness.
He flees to his favorite place of prayer-
a garden outside the walls of Jerusalem-
from that garden we take our name.
That garden is where we see why Christ had to die.
“Not my will but thine be done,” he prays.
There’s a whole theology in that one phrase.
But its not what we sometimes hear
On the radio or even in our fearful hearts.
It’s not a sadistic Father God sacrificing His Son on a bloody altar
to atone for sin or appease his own wrath.
And it can’t be used to justify
victimhood or unnecessary suffering-
As in “got trouble?- just offer it up to God.”
Sometimes we have to do just that-
Offer our troubles up to God.
the lesson of Gethsemane is quite the opposite:
It's the Son’s reverent immersion
Not in his own suffering,
But in the flood of compassionate love
which IS the God the Father.
That beam of light
so focused on Christ in our picture
is really nothing less than the Father’s compassion,
saying, in effect
Do whatever is necessary to bring the world back to me,
Back to love.
Christ’s Passion began long before
he climbed Calvary’s hill on Good Friday.
It began inside God’s Fatherly/ Motherly heart-
With Parent and Son – hearts beating as one.
Not just Thursday, Friday, Saturday of Holy Week
But from the beginning of time until now-
That hear beats in undying compassion for all creation.
That compassion is continued in self sacrificing love on Calvary.
It’s fulfilled a few days later
when our Risen Lord rides the same beam of God’s compassion
up to new and unending life in God.
But that’s the story for tomorrow night and Sunday.
Last night we heard Jesus new command-
“Love one another.”
Now we know why he commanded it-
And why we ought to do it.
By loving one another
We participate in that same warm beam of compassion
That drove Christ to come to earth,
To die, to rise,
To live forever
By loving each other-
Listening to each other,
Feeding each other,
By providing shelter and companionship and help to others
we are fulfilling the compassion of God
And making it possible for others to touch and feel that love.
On Good Friday 1998
My sons, 4 and 7,years old, and I
Attended noon services at the Basilica of St Mary
A few blocks away from here.
A huge wooden cross was passed overhead from door to altar
And as it passed
I lifted each in turn,
Matthew and Eric
Standing up on the pew-
The one time I allowed that liberty-
And I lifted them up-
so that they could touch the cross.
They couldn’t reach it by themselves- they needed my help.
That is what we do for each other
When we love each other.
We help others touch the cross,
And experience God’s compassion
In rough hewn, heavy wood.
In a few moments
Before we leave tonight
We will all have another opportunity to reverence the cross-
Touch it, light a candle on it,
Bow to it, kiss the cross
any or all of the above.
Whatever we do
Will be a sign of our acceptance of God’s compassion.
Why did Jesus have to die?
So we could touch the cross o God’s compassion,
and help others do so also.