Homily for Good Friday

by Anne Shepard, OSB
29 March 2013 

In his book, Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was, Gerhard Lohfink, a notable German theologian, describes the historical Jesus. The chapter on the final day of Jesus, the day we recall as we gather now, ends with daunting thoughts about the question of guilt. How guilty did the opponents of Jesus feel putting him to death? That's a complex question. Jesus came to interpret the Torah and form people into a community, to interpret the scriptures radically as the will of God. Jesus wanted the temple to be where we all come together to live out the reign of God in worship and word. But the Sanhedrin, the high court, thought they had to defend the people, the temple, The Torah by condemning Jesus.

Lohfink says, "we too constantly hear God's true claim, fully evident in Jesus, but we cover it up with our own ideas, habits, and convenience and so shove it out of the world.  Therefore an examination of the passion of Jesus cannot be about diluting or downplaying the guilt of Jesus' opponents. On the contrary: it is about uncovering the depths of that guilt, because that is how we will uncover the guilt of us all."

We have a day and a half left of this penitential season. We are immersed in the mystery of death. Where is our guilt in shoving God's word away from believers, away from the message and mystery of complete incarnate love? Where is our guilt in choosing convenience over interruption for the sake of others? Where is our guilt in not addressing injustices through prayer or action or both with the consequence of increased violence against humanity?

Let us claim our guilt and choose the way of extreme love, the way of the cross, the  road to Easter.