Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday Homily--You Can't Stay in the Middle

Our Students Outdoor Stations of the Cross on Good Friday
Oftentimes on Good Friday, I try to focus on one or another of the persons mentioned in St. John's Passion narrative. Maybe the Blessed Virgin or St. John himself. Pilate, Barabbas, Simon Peter, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary of Magdala, or Nicodemus. But today, I want to talk about someone who is not mentioned by St. John.

Earlier this afternoon, Catholic students here at BU did a live Stations of the Cross in the middle of Marsh Plaza. There, in the middle of campus, they acted out the Passion and Death of the Lord. As they did so, I was struck by all of the people passing by. They were busy living life. They were getting on and off the Green Line, getting on the bus to West Campus, making their way to class. Some tour groups passed by. Even though they didn't know it, they too were taking part in the Stations of the Cross.  They were, what you might call, "extras." They actually played an important role.

At the center of everything was Jesus and all of the main characters. Some, like John, Mary, Simon of Cyrene, and the women had definitively chosen to stay with Jesus. Others, like the soldiers and Pilate were clearly against Jesus. On the peripheries, however, were people who passed by as though this event taking place had nothing to do with them. They were busy. They had to get places. Maybe as they passed by, they thought, "Yeah, I should probably be more religious." Or maybe they thought, "Those crazy Catholics." But, for the most part, their role was to pass by. This Jesus and his death had  nothing really to do with them.

Between the main characters and those who didn't have time to stop were the rest of us. We were watching what took place, and it was as though we were suddenly faced with a choice. Are we going to live as though this event has everything to do with our life or are we going to pass by? See, if we're honest, we can all easily forget that His Passion and Death define our life. We can live as passers by. We have a vague sense that Jesus is important, but we have places to go and things to do. 

Today, Jesus cries out from the Cross, "I thirst." A few weeks ago, he thirsted by the well in Samaria. He told the woman that he wanted a drink.  He did not merely want water from her. He thirsted for her Faith. He thirsted for her to put her Faith in him, to trust him; to trust that He could give her what she had been searching for in vain for all of her life. He thirsted for her to surrender to him and to trust that he would bring her the happiness that had long eluded her.  

Today, Jesus cries from the Cross, "I thirst."  He thirsts for our Faith. If we're honest, all of us hold back from trusting Jesus completely. There's a little "passer by" in all of us. There's a hesitancy in us. We are afraid to surrender certain parts of our life to him. All of us can act at times as though what happens on the Cross is not absolutely critical and central to our life. We can be busy about many things. We can pass by hurriedly, but no matter how frenzied life might be, we can hear his voice today through all the noise. He's calling out to us, "I thirst." "I thirst for you. I thirst for your love. I thirst for that part of your life that you are keeping from me. I thirst for that part of your life that you hide from me, that you refuse to surrender. I thirst to be the one who defines your life. I thirst."

In a few moments, we will all approach the crucified Lord and reverence the wood of the Cross. As we do so, let's remember that he is calling out, "I thirst." He's not crying out to some vague or anonymous crowd. He's crying out to you personally. Will you give him your heart or will you be a passer by? He thirsts. And you must  now make a decision.

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