Good Friday 2022 Preaching by Sister Joan Delaplane, OP April 15, 2022 We have just listened once again to the Greatest Love Story ever told, with an “ending” that is a beginning and is on-going. “The Scriptures do not give us words to explain away pain and death,” says Thomas Reese, “rather, they give us the Son of God who is willing to descend into the trenches and suffer and die with us.” We recall in Luke’s account of the temptations of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time .” Calvary must have seemed that “opportune time” as those around the cross cried out: “If you are the Son of God, save yourself!” Once again, Jesus remained steadfast in LOVE. As Richard Rohr put it: “The cross is not the price that Jesus had to pay to convince God to love us. It was Jesus’ voluntary acceptance of undeserved suffering as an act of total solidarity with the pain of the world.” And it is that pain of the world, seen on our TVs each evening. that we witness the Body of Christ being Crucified. As rarely before in the lifetime of most of us, have we had to face such depth of pain and agony, trauma really, in our personal lives, our family, congregation, nation, and, yes, Ukraine, and the world. Pain on so many different levels. No matter what we suffer or with whom we suffer, Jesus the Christ is in solidarity not only for us but with us. I have found that when I am in pain or suffering, I am inclined to get very self-preoccupied, self-absorbed. Jesus, however, in his incomprehensible suffering, continued to be loving and caring about others. He cries out: “Abba, forgive them. They know not what they do.” He shows concern for his mother. He assures a thief that he doesn’t have to steal heaven; he’s already assured a place in the Kingdom. And Jesus can finally say of his mission: “It is finished! He bows his head and hands over his spirit.” He has fulfilled his mission of witnessing through his life and death God’s Infinite Love, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion for all creatures and creation. Nothing – not the deepest suffering of a heart wound by the betrayal of a dear friend, injustice, false accusations even by religious leaders, physical torture, or seeming abandonment by his God – nothing could overpower his trust and steadfast love for his Abba and all Abba loves, including you and me. A few years ago, Ireland sponsored a contest for the best thirty-word short story. This won first place: “Welcome home, Son.” “Hello, Father.” “It is good to see you.” “It was hard. Hard as nails. Hard as wood.” “I know. What was the hardest?” “The kiss, Father, the kiss.” (long pause) “Yes. Come in and let me hold you.” (quoted by Megan McKenna in Lent: The Daily Readings ) Thank you, Incarnate Word of Love. Grant us each the grace to endure in love and in trust, no matter what, until “it is finished” in each of our lives. Amen.