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Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday homily

The Lord saves us according to the manner of our fall.
The fall of Adam and Eve is reprised in every human heart. We echo, we harmonize on that dreadful song with every fall of our own.
That tree of which Adam and Eve ate is called “The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Perhaps we can say the tree of the knowledge of good mixed with evil. This tree was beside the tree of life in the middle of the garden. Adam and Eve were then temped to eat from this tree, as we know, and they saw that it was pleasing to the eye, and good for food, and then Eve took and ate it and gave it to her husband who was with her, and he did the same.
Knowing evil is not just a matter of information. For the Jews, knowledge means a type of union. This is why Mary can say “I have not known man” when she speaks of her virginity. On this tree, evil and good are intermingled, and when we know good mixed with evil, we thus unite ourselves with that evil.
This is the horror of sin. And if you want to look at it more clearly, in its fullness, look at a crucifix. It is there on the wood of calvary, on a new tree in a new garden, that we see what sin really looks like. “Surely you will not die” the snake told Eve.  Indeed they do not die immediately, but death comes later as a punishment for us and a limit for the evil of this world. But for sin someone does indeed die, but it is God Himself who takes that punishment.
But this horror of the reality of sin, this image that stings our eyes and our consciences to look upon, is also a tree of good mixed with evil. And here, the good absorbs the evil, the infinite God absorbs human misery. For in the Cross we not only see how disgusting our sin is. Here we also are made to see the depth of God’s love. Here we see the lamb without blemish that truly can save us from our sins.
Thus we can hear, as we did a few nights ago in our parish mission, the words of the ancient homily where Jesus speaks to Adam in these powerfully dramatic words of salvation:
For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
This is why we can call today “Good” Friday. Good because of who God is, not because of anything we have done. And now, as we thank the Lord’s merciful love that is poured out in blood upon the earth, we beg Him the grace to respond in love as we should, to show his mercy to our neighbor, especially those closest to us in these days, so that the light of His love will scatter the darkness of sin.

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