So, what are we doing today as we celebrate the Liturgy of the Good Friday at the time of the pandemic? Are we like media outlets reporting another death? There is no need to do that. This death is well known, isn’t it? So, why does it matter to remember the death of an ancient person when there are thousands dying every day from the plague of the Twenty-first century? Maybe we should hide the crucifix? Maybe we should keep it covered? Why to add another death image when in some places there is no room in morgues? Isn’t enough death around us?
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! Like every year, on Good Friday we hear what the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, St John the Evangelist, has to say about Jesus’ death. St John doesn’t simply report what happened that first Good Friday when our Lord was crucified. St John doesn’t give us graphic details of what Jesus was put through. St John invites us, the same way he invited the Christian communities of his time, into the mystery of God hidden in the reality of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. In the midst of the hatred and brutality Jesus was subjected to there was the mystery of God’s merciful love unfolding for us and for our salvation.
The Passion narrative for this day begins right after Jesus and his disciples left the Cenacle where they had the Last Supper. Aware of what was going to happen to him the Lord went to a garden. St John doesn’t tell us the name of that garden, because John was given some divine knowledge that the garden wasn’t simply a place on the map of Jerusalem. That garden was the sinful condition of the humankind which started in the garden we call Eden, where our first parents sinned, where they wanted to be like God but without God. What Jesus does in the Gospel today could be called ‘Return to Eden,’ not an idyllic place but the place, or better to say a human condition, completely contaminated by sin but waiting and hoping for redemption.
When the first people sinned in the garden and hid themselves in the garden it was God who went to look for them not because he didn’t know what they had had done and where they had hidden themselves but because he wanted to bring them into the light of his redeeming love. ‘Adam, where are you?’ was God’s call. This call resounded again in the garden where Jesus went with his disciples. When he met the cohort led by Judas he asked them: ‘Who are you looking for?’ Their answer was: ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ Who was this Jesus the Nazarene? He was the New Adam on whom, as Isaiah prophesised, ‘lies a punishment that brings us peace’ and who was ‘burdened with the sins of all of us.’
Thus if we hear the Gospel the way St John proclaimed it, if we hear the Gospel by being drawn to the saving action of God unfolding there, we the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve infected by sin in every cell of our existence, from that contaminated existence of ours we cry out today: ‘Jesus Christ, New Adam, where are you?’ He shows himself in the garden, in our sinful condition, which he begins transforming by his obedience to God. Where the first people and the generations of their descendants have shown disobedience to God Jesus is showing by his actions that ‘his food is doing the will of his Father.’
In the course of his trial Jesus was taking upon himself all the hatred, despise and resentment people have ever given God and each other. At the end of his traversing from Holy Thursday to Good Friday he returned to a garden as St John wrote: ‘At the place where he had been crucified there was a garden.’ Once again we cry out: ‘Jesus Christ, New Adam, where are you?’ The answer will be given soon when the covered cross is gradually unveiled for us during this Liturgy.
The cross will be unveiled in the midst of our suffering, uncertainty and fear. It will be unveiled when like no before we realise our fragility and mortality. When we gaze on this cross we will do so as people of our time who still suffer the consequences of the drama from Eden.
The cross will be unveiled so that in the most powerful way: spiritual and existential we could nestle up to the Lord crucified there for us and for our salvation. From there we can look with trust and hope on ourselves and on the world around us.
Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung the salvation of the world.
Come, let us adore.