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Good Friday A ~ Susan McGurgan


We cannot turn back time,

and walk where he walked,

carefully fitting our faltering steps

into his dusty footprints.

We cannot turn back time,

and watch,

our throats tight

with wonder and fear,

as Lazarus tears off his shroud

and stumbles out of the tomb--

or see the leper’s skin

become whole and new.

We cannot turn back time,

and stand anxiously beside Pilate,

wringing our hands

while the procurator washes his.

Even in our deepest suffering,

we cannot turn back time,

and leap across the void

to stand beside him in Capernaum

or sail with him across the Sea of Galilee.

And yet, strangely,

the cross—

a Roman instrument of torture and shame,

has allowed us to do much more

than simply turn back time.

It allows us to transcend time—

to shatter it completely.

St. John Paul II once said,

“We are invited to look upon the cross.

It is the “privileged place”

where the love of God is revealed …

On the cross,

human misery and divine mercy meet.

The cross is planted in the earth

and would seem to extend its roots

in human malice--

but it reaches up,

pointing as it were to the heavens,

pointing to the goodness of God.

By means of the cross of Christ,

the Evil One has been defeated,

death is overcome,

life is given to us,

hope is restored,

light is imparted.” *

Today above all days,

we remember the cross.

Standing before the cross

we stand in a privileged place of

horror and hope;

pain and promise

ending and beginning,

death and life.

Today, we look upon the cross,

and stand close enough to its rough beams

to feel its shadow across our face.

Standing close to the cross

changes our perspective.

It sharpens our gaze and broadens our view.

The closer we stand to the cross,

the more we can see

a vision of the people we are called to be.

The closer we stand to the cross,

the more clearly

we can hear God calling our names.

Standing close to the cross

there are things

we can no longer say about ourselves

or our sisters and brothers. **

When we stand close to the cross

there are actions we can no longer take,

words we can no longer use,

possessions and attitudes

that can no longer satisfy.


Standing at the foot of the cross,

forgiveness becomes possible,

mercy and healing become real,

hope is restored

and death itself is transformed.

Standing at the foot of the cross,

we are invited to see the world,

broken and blessed,

through God’s own eyes.

Ever since Salvador Dali’s painting,

“Christ of Saint John of the Cross”

was first exhibited in 1952,

it has evoked admiration,

criticism,

controversy.

The viewer looks down

from a perspective high above

the bowed head and outstretched arms

of the crucified Lord.

From that perspective—

some say,

the perspective of God—

the eye is drawn to the foot of the cross

plunged deep into the earth,

plunged deep into the Sea of Galilee

where an empty boat awaits.

For God so loved the world

that he gave his only Son, so that everyone

who believes in him might not perish

but might have eternal life. ***

This passage has been called

“The Gospel in miniature.”

Our whole story--

our whole future--

is contained in these few words.

God loves us.

God offers us life.

Today's liturgy is a visceral reminder

of these words.

We process to the cross to venerate,

to remember,

to promise.

Today's liturgy is an invitation

to stay close to the cross.

It is the place where

human misery and divine mercy meet.

It is the place

God offers us the greatest gift.


Stay close to the cross,

plunged deep into Calvary,

plunged deep into our lives,

for on this rough hewn wood,

sin,

sorrow,

and time itself

are transformed.

Stay close to the cross,

for in its shadow,

death is overthrown.

Due to copyright constraints, we cannot post an image of Dali’s painting. It can be viewed here. https://www.dalipaintings.com/christ-of-saint-john-of-the-cross.jsp


*Pope John Paul II Excerpts from homily September 14, 2003

**Larry Gillick, S.J. Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality

*** John 3:16

© Susan Fleming McGurgan

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