This Good Friday the children from the parish have read for us the Passion account in John’s Gospel. Through their voices we have heard once again of the events around the suffering and death of Jesus. There is something about listening to their voices, the voices of a new generation, which sharpens our hearing and makes it even easier to listen to this long passage. It’s to this generation that we as adults hand on this story, the same story that has been given to us. In these words, in the telling of this story, we have realised that it has grown into us, wrapped itself round us, entered into the secret corners of our heart and we hope that it becomes the same for these children. We believe to live with this story, to strive to understand it is to find the peril of great price and we wish the same for them.
To the outsider, untouched by these words, it simply tells of a person many years in a remote place who was put to death. It tells us of a conflict that leads to his death that is difficult to understand and difficult to explain if you don’t come from their religious background. It tells us that the civil arm was drawn into the dispute and put him to death for fear that their rule should be compromised or undermined. The man seems a strange man, he doesn’t speak up for himself, he seems to waive the right to be heard and the chance to go free. He seems known to these people as a sage, a wise man and teacher and someone whom it is claimed does miraculous deeds. He dies the death of a traitor, a ususper, a common criminal.
At this moment he should have disappeared from human history, his name and his deeds should not be known to us. He should have melted away as snow melts at the first signs of a thaw. But history tell us different, that instead of disappearing, this story that we have heard today and these children have heard catches fire. Despite attempts over different ages to stamp it out the, fire runs wild and cannot be contained. Because what it is being told here is the mystery by which God saves the world.
This person whom we hear of is Jesus, name above all names. This is the son of God come on earth. His teaching are a divine wisdom, his healing miracles speak of a greater healing of a broken world and the human heart. This event at the end of his earthly life is the greatest mystery of all that God allows his own son to be taken and put to death for the salvation and healing of the world.
This is the story that is spoken quietly in this Church and in our hearing today. God doesn’t condemn the world but he sends his son to save it. He doesn’t call us servants any longer, he calls us friends. What was broken he heals. What was sinful he grants pardon and forgiveness.
We are listening to the things that gives the world meaning and sense, light and hope, purpose and truth. It's not words strung together but it is words that in the very telling of them gives hope and light in a darkened world.
One of the things that each of us have come to believe is that the mystery of the Cross is a mystery that is intertwined with our lives. In it is God’s unspeakable love for us but also within it is a an invitation to enter even more deeply into his love. The great saints speak about the mystery of the Cross which comes to them with pain and great suffering and yet to accept it you enter into new depths of his love. Our first desire when pain comes, when uncertainty and difficulty comes, when the cross appears in our life is to pull our hand away as if we have been burnt by the open flame. We re-coil from it. But it seems as if a new understanding of God’s love is achieved for all those who shoulder their cross, who carry the heaven burden, who bear the weight. After the darkness and the uncertainty there is a dawn and a bright day that lies beyond.
Good Friday is a day in the Church’s year but it is much more. It recalls something which is at the centre of our faith that God loved the world so much that he sent his son into the world that all shall not perish but be saved. Who couldn’t want to be here today, to remember and live this.