Homily for Good Friday

Over the road, in Crown St, are some offices the homeless charity Shelter. Shelter – isn’t that what we’re seeking today, Good Friday? The shelter of divine charity.

The prophet Isaiah says of the mysterious Suffering Servant: “He shall see his descendants, he shall have a long life”. This is Jesus. This “long life” is his resurrected life, and we are his “descendants”, a long wandering line from the beginning of time to the end, held by his gaze. “I’m going to make my peace with Jesus”, an old Italian peasant would say on Good Friday, and he’d come to the Cross and deliver his kiss, as we will have the chance to do shortly. Yes, surely, we’re seeking shelter, a safe place, refuge, rest. And here it is, in Christ, the Crucified One, in the Cross we will kiss. This kiss is the heart of today. All we have to give, like the widow’s two coins.

“O Cross of Christ, immortal tree / On which our Saviour died, / The world is sheltered by your arms / That bore the Crucified.”

“Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy…and find grace” (2nd reading). From the late Middle Ages, many paintings of the crucified Christ took that very title, Throne of Grace. We’ve seen them: God the Father is enthroned behind his crucified Son and holds up the Cross, presenting Christ to us, with the Holy Spirit coming from the Father and resting on the Son. The Cross unfurls the Trinity.

The Cross of course was an instrument of torture, and it stands as a symbol of our inhumanity, ongoing inhumanity, and of our rejection of God. But when Jesus took up the Cross, he kissed it, says St Catherine of Siena, and kissing it changed it. He made it his, he married it so as to marry us. And we can kiss it in turn, kissing him. The Cross became the Tree of Life, offering good fruit. It became the military banner that makes an army of us, strong against the powers of evil. And so it became our shelter; a port, a harbour, a safe place.

Humanly, there’s nothing we want more than to be loved and be sure of it. There’s nothing we need more than to be forgiven and accepted, taken back into love. Here it is, this surety, this shelter, divine hospitality. It is here.

So we come to give our kiss, and make our peace. Here are outstretched arms. Here is an opened side to enfold us. Here are blood and water to wash us and transfuse us. Here is an untorn garment to wrap us in. Here is a mother too, welcoming her children as they come. Here is Jesus’ thirst – for us. Here is the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave up with his last breath          and gives again and again.

Let us go to the Throne of Grace with the homage of our lips.


RC Diocese of Aberdeen Charitable Trust.
A registered Scottish Charity Number SC005122