A HOMILY DELIVERED BY 4:30PM THROUGH 91.1 LION FM, UNN (AND THEIR FACEBOOK LIFE STREAMING) FROM ST. PETER CHAPLAINCY CHAPEL.
The mass will be from the point of view of clarification while the trial is based on contemplation.
WHY IS THERE NO MASS ON A GOOD FRIDAY: Beloved in Christ, there are three parts in today’s liturgy: the liturgy of the word which peeks in the ten intercessory prayers, the veneration of the cross and the communion service.
A critical observation of the above mentioned spiritual exercise raises a very interesting question which is why the absence of the liturgy of the Eucharist on the most sacred day in the Christian life? By extension, why do we not cerebrate mass on good Friday? A shallow thought would say; Christ died today and so , there is no living body and blood to celebrate. But a deep theological thought sees beyond this unchristian view. Such thought recalls that today we are commemorating the reality of which the mass is a sacramental figure; ie the suffering and death of Christ. Remember one of the response after the consecration, when the priest says “the mystery of faith” we response “when we eat this bread and drink this wine, we proclaim your death, until you come again. Therefore, today, the figure of the death (which is the holy mass) cease on the advent of its reality.
Just like the same figure of mass in form of bread and wine; is not necessary in heaven where the victim (Christ himself) dwells. No wonder, although the body of Christ is reserved for that day, the blood is not, on account of danger and because the blood is more specially the image of the Lord’s passion. Besides, the second reading during the office this morning by St. John Chrysostom was on the power of the blood of Christ, and vestment for this evening celebration is red.
In sum, the church on earth is priveledged (on good friday) to commerate the passion as it really happened in time, whereas the church in heaven participate in this thankgiving (ceaselessly) as it really happenened both in time and in place because they are living with the priest and victim himself.
A little analogue (though not a perfect one) to clarify this goes thus- previosely, every celebration of the federal Republic of Nigeria was in lagos because the president resides there, but when the president changed location to Abuja, every national cerebration (unless those he allowed to be done by representation in other state) followed him. In the same way, 2000 years ago, our blessed Lord left calvary to every tabernacle in his church, for sacramental celebration and to heaven for real celebration. Therefore, let us bear it in mind that we are celebrating today something more than mass since the sacramental figure of the passion is perfected in the reality commemorated on good Friday. No wonder we honor the cross as we do the holy eucharist (for more clarification, refer to the holy Dominican friar named Thomas Aquinas in his summa theologica, part III, question 83, article 2, objection 2)
Meanwhile, let us take this to heart. There are three degrees of memorial – remembrance, refrection and re-enactment. Remembrance occurs when one is listening to a record of the holy mass, stations of the cross or passion of our lord, reflection occurs when one is participating in the passion of the lord (except on a good friday) in any other form outside liturgy. Such participation could be real or through the media (as dispensed by the roman pontiff) provided it is happening at that point in time.
Then, re-enactment takes place in the context of the liturgy especially holy mass or the celebration of the Lord’s passion on a good Friday. This can also be accomplished through the media following the above condition.
Moreover, lending credence to the above Clarification about mass and good Friday, that of holy mass could be called a symbolic re-enactment while that of good Friday is a spectacular re-enactment, but both offers us the saving fruit of Christ’s death. Therefore, rembrance of the Lord’s passion is good, reflecting on it is gain while its re-enactment is efficaciously gracefilled even to those who participate through radio or social medi at this point in time.
THE GREATEST TRIAL IN HISTORY: TODAY, we are re-enacting in a spectacular manner, the greatest trial in history. A trial placed before a Roman Judge and political philosopher named Lucius Pontius pilate. He is a young man who distinguished himself in the German army, and so, was honoured by emperor Tiberias to report as governor in Jerusalem.
This particular morning, before 4 and 6am, a prisoner was brought before him, our divine Lord, since he has the power to send him to death. Pilate stepped out of the balcony of his mansion, and as a lawyer, he called for the accusations, pointing to the prisoner, he said “what charge do you bring against this man?” They mentioned three charges, that he was perverting the nation, refusing to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he is a king. But these are false charges. He was not perverting the nations, he was only opening their eyes to the light of God. He was not refusing to give tribute to Caesar, rather he said render onto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Pilate was afraid that as a king, he could be a rival, and he called him inside to ask him, “are you a king?” If he were a king, this was treason and Pilate has handled 52 cases of treason. So Pilate was concerned whether or not Caesar has a rival. Our Blessed Lord answered him, my kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my disciple would have fought for me. In other words, he was saying to Pilate, do not be afraid, I’m not an enemy of Caesar, I’m not a king that was elected by the subjects, rather I am a king who elects his own subjects. My kingdom is spiritual, that’s why I asked Peter to put back his sword last night. Pilate was satisfied that he was not a rival and therefore no charge against him. when, he told the accusers that he found no cause to condemn our lord, they renewed the case with a charge of insurrection beginning from Galilees. It was an opportunity for Pilate, the cheap politician, to shift responsibility to Herod, a Roman Representative in Galilee. But our lord would not speak to Herod due to his dirty political history for religion was not a subject of unwise decision as he would decide for John’s head. Coming back to Pilate, he gave them an option for the release of a prisoner before the feast of Passover. Pilate could hardly believe his ear as they called for the release of Barabbas against Christ. (vice against virtue).
He therefore ordered the soldiers to cruelly forment our Blessed Lord, after which he tried for the very last time to get him released. He shouted “Ecce Homo” Behold the man not just the man, behold humanity. All sufferings humanity, from Christian persecution, pressure, poverty, passion, pestilence and pandemic were on him. When the crowd insisted on his condemnation, the worst thing that evil could do was to kill good news which resurrected gloriously after three days with the scar of an open sepulcher.
Supposed he was just a man, supposed there was no resurrection, what answer could we have to the question of God’s silence on all the prolonged suffering and sickness of the innocent Christians in this would? This might have been the unresolved puzzle of humanity if there had not been the resurrection.
Giving the resurrection, no longer can we say that God does not know what if means to suffer, no one can become despondent or hopeless on a bed of pain any longer for death has been conquered.
For the days of catastrophe, crisis and COVID-19 as we have today, we need a religion that has it origin from catastrophe and that is ours(Christianity). And so, no matter the condition, we shall never be without hope, we shall never perish for we have already won!
Happy Easter in Advance.