Holy Friday – A Secured TombFr. Barnabas Powell
On this Holy Friday:
Let us pray to the Lord,
O God and Father: How can the light of the sun pierce the terrible darkness of this day and its events? Your only Son, the true light, in the darkness of his ordeal, was pleased to embrace in his humanity the sufferings he could not endure in his divinity. And to what purpose, if not to prove that he considered us worthy of salvation! The crowds that had so admired him at first, were now overcome with aversion for him, in spite of the good he had done. In their outrage that the master of the sabbath should break the sabbath, they sneered at him and derided him. He suffered all sorts of indignities for us: He was spat upon and slapped and ridiculed. He was scourged by the soldiers and, finally, he was hanged on that tree of shame. And we, as usual, remain vacillating and ambivalent. Without your help, O Father, we can never see the honor that is ours in his voluntary shame.
By the grace and mercy and love for us of your only Son, with whom you are blest, together with your all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit: now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
As we stand at the cross with the Lord on this Day, know that there are those who are standing here as well that are already plotting to secure the tomb of the Lord to keep Him from rising from the dead. That’s always true in our world. Mixed together are people who love Him and people who hate Him.
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Matthew 27:62-66:
Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Therefore order the sepulcher to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.” So they went and made the sepulcher secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
From the Cross, during our Master’s passion, pain, suffering, humiliation, and torture, His only thoughts were of others. It is amazing how susceptible to tunnel vision we are when we are in pain. From the Cross, our Lord thought about those who had betrayed and crucified Him: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He thought of the thief who repented: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” And He thought of His Mother and us: “Woman, behold your son.” Our Lord gave His mother to St. John the Beloved disciple and, through him, He gave her to all of us as well since we are all brothers and sisters in Christ with St. John.
Our Lord, in the midst of His pain, thought not of Himself, even as He quoted the Psalms – “My God, my God why have you forsaken me” – and saying “I thirst” to fulfill the scriptures. Our Lord thought only of the joy that would follow the pain, and in so doing made the pain an impotent weapon that could no longer overcome hope and love. He also made futile the attempts of those who hated and feared Him to “secure” His tomb. Death was not going to hold forever the Lord of Life! But that’s the fate of all attempts to hold the Lord down. They always fail to overcome Him. Always!
Today, kneel before Him Who was crucified for you and glory in the victory of love and mercy over the worst of human fallenness!
Soon, the Light that destroys the darkness will light up the night of sin and forever show Light greater than all darkness!
You are so close, dearest! Don’t stumble so close to the finish! Stick around for the joy, especially after having witnessed the temporary tragedy of the Cross! Hang in there.