Gaze towards the cross

ON Good Friday the entire church turns its gaze towards the Cross. Through the death of Jesus we are invited to contemplate deeply our own sinfulness and unite our own experience of death with Jesus on the Cross.

Through the death of Jesus new life is won for us and it is the recognition and celebration of this new life in the death of Jesus that we enter into the experience of the passion or death of Jesus.

In the solemn ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the ‘Reproaches’, in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior and rejoice that new life has been won for us through the Cross.

Since the celebration of the Lord’s Supper the night before, the altar is stripped bare and the tabernacle is left open. The church is in mourning.

This is the day we call the ‘Pasch” (or passage) of the crucifixion. No mass is celebrated on Good Friday. The hosts that were consecrated at the mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening will be distributed to the faithful.

The entire tone of the Liturgy of Good Friday is solemn; reminding us of the humiliation and crucifixion of Jesus.

In order for the good news of the gospel to have meaning for us, we first have to understand the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation.

The good news of deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved. Another way of saying this is that it is important to understand and distinguish between law and gospel in Scripture.

We need the law first to show us how hopeless our condition is; then the gospel of Jesus’ grace comes and brings us relief and salvation.

The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. Psalms 85:10 sings of a day when “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other.”

The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where God’s demands and his righteousness, coincided with his mercy. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin.

“For the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it led to his resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.

Throughout the Archdiocese of Suva, the parishes will gather at 3pm to celebrate the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. This Service is a continuation of the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper and hence begins in silence as the night before ended in silence. Traditionally the altar is completely bare until covered by a clean white cloth for the Ministry of the Sacrament. All hangings are removed.

This service normally consists of four parts:

* The Ministry of the Word, with a focus on the Passion

* The Solemn Intercession

* The Meditation on the Cross of Jesus

* The Ministry of the Sacrament

Good Friday marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark and so good!

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