Friday, April 10, 2020

Sermon -- Good Friday: The Third Word from the Cross (April 10, 2020)

Painting by Jacobello de Fiore (ca. 1375 - 1439)
From Art Museum of Toledo (Ohio)
Seven Words from the Cross:
The Third Word

John 19:25-27

     On Jesus' first trip to Jerusalem, he was only 40 days old.  An elderly man, Simeon, got to see his Savior.  Then he got to deliver a warning to Mary: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel….  And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.” (Luke 2:34-35)  Jesus would be hated; Mary would see it.  Jesus would be flogged and nailed to a cross; Mary would watch it.  She was there, at the cross, seeing the fulfillment of all God’s plans.  When a soldier ran Jesus through with a spear, a sword pierced Mary’s soul, too.  You and I call Jesus “Savior” and “Lord.”  Mary had the blessed distinction of calling him, “My son.”  The Son of God is the Son of Mary.  So when this beloved Son died, a sword pierced her own soul, too.
     Even while Jesus was enduring divine wrath, he showed love.  Even while Jesus was under God's curse, he bestowed blessing.  Even in the throes of agony, Jesus showed compassion to his mother.  Jesus saw his beloved apostle, John, at the cross, and he entrusted Mary to his care.  From that day on, Jesus’ apostle took care of Jesus’ mother.
     This is the same love he has for his Church.  The Church has been called our mother because God has given us life through the Church.  The Groom plants the seed—which is  the word—into his Bride, and she bears offspring who are the children of God.  Nor does Jesus Christ leave his Church to fend for Herself.  Just as Jesus gave his mother into the care of his apostle, so the Lord has given his Church ministers to care for her.
     Granted, Jesus could preserve the Church without aid from anyone—just as Jesus could have miraculously preserved Mary without the aid of anyone.  But our Lord delights in calling us to serve one another in our various vocations.  As nice as it would be for Jesus to appear to us and serve us in the flesh, he has chosen to serve his Church through fleshly ministers.  It is there that you hear the voice of your Lord, declaring his love and his mercy and his care for you.  In the midst of our pains and sorrows, Jesus blesses us with one another so that we may speak and act with compassion and consolation for each other.
     Jesus loves his Church and her children.  For, he lived and died for them.

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