22 March, 2016

Holy Week Catechesis 2 – Meaning of Good Friday and the Solemn Intercessions

One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.’ (John 19:34)
Over these first three days of Holy Week I would like to share with you a few thoughts about the liturgies that mark our Easter celebrations so that by understanding them better we may allow the life of Jesus, which these liturgies make present, to happen to us, that is to touch and renew our faith. Today we look at Good Friday and perhaps we ought to start by looking at the name of this holy day. Why do we call it “Good”? If this is the terrible, most sorrowful day in which Our Lord dies in indescribable pain on Calvary, how can this day be good? Well, one interpretation can be found in the very fact that Jesus dies on Good Friday for us. His death, his pierced side, his Passion are the fountain of healing and the manifestation of God’s limitless love for us. Jesus dies on this day for us fulfilling what he earlier said in John’s gospel 
‘just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life’ (John 3:14-15). 
For us Jesus is lifted on the Cross, for us he dies. So although the Celebration of the Passion is marked by a mournful atmosphere and by silence, the Friday of Holy Week is a “Good” day for us sinners.

The other aspect I would like to consider with you is the great prayer of intercession that takes place in the service. These Solemn Intercessions are considerably longer and more structured than our usual intercession at Mass. The intercessions will be punctuated by silence and by signing. Their aim is to gather all people – of every Christian denomination, of every religion and none, living and departed – to Calvary, to the feet of our Lord on the Cross. I hope that during this time each of us will have the confidence to bring to the Cross Jesus all those situations that need the healing flowing from his pierced side; to bring to Jesus our parish community praying for our growth in numbers and in holiness, and also to bring ourselves so that we may find comfort and strength in the wounds of our Lord.

Throughout this “Good” day of our redemption and particularly through the Solemn Intercessions let us be reminded of the words of the hymn Soul of my Saviour, pleading together
Strength and protection may thy Passion be,
O blessèd Jesus, hear and answer me;
deep in thy wounds, Lord, hide and shelter me, 
so shall I never, never part from thee.

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