The Death of Christ, the Life of a Christian

Homily for Good Friday – St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer

…Being a Christian is not a title of mere personal satisfaction: it has a name — mission substance —. Before, we remembered that the Lord invites all Christians to be salt and light of the world; echoing this mandate, and with texts taken from the Old Testament, Saint Peter writes some words that mark this task very clearly: You are a chosen lineage, a royal priesthood, holy people, a people of conquest, to publish the greatness of the One who brought you out of darkness into his admirable light.

Being a Christian is not accidental, it is a divine reality that is inserted in the bowels of our life, giving us a clean vision and a determined will to act as God wants. It is thus learned that the pilgrimage of the Christian in the world must become a continuous service rendered in very different ways, according to personal circumstances, but always for the love of God and neighbor. To be a Christian is to act without thinking about the small goals of prestige or ambition, nor about purposes that may seem more noble, such as philanthropy or compassion in the face of other people’s misfortunes: is to run towards the ultimate and radical term of love that Jesus Christ has manifested by dying for us.

Sometimes there are some attitudes, which are the product of not knowing how to penetrate that mystery of Jesus. For example, the mentality of those who see Christianity as a set of practices or acts of piety, without perceiving its relationship with the situations of ordinary life, with the urgency of attending to the needs of others and striving to remedy injustices.

I would say that whoever has that mentality has not yet understood what it means that the Son of God has incarnated, that he has taken the body, soul and voice of man, who has participated in our destiny until experiencing the supreme tear of death. Perhaps, inadvertently, some people consider Christ as a stranger in the environment of men.

…Only if we try to understand the arcane of God’s love , of that love that reaches death, will we be able to give ourselves totally to others, without letting ourselves be overcome by difficulty or indifference.

It is faith in Christ, dead and risen, present in each and every moment of life, that illuminates our consciences, inciting us to participate with all our strength in the vicissitudes and problems of human history. In that story, which began with the creation of the world and will end with the consummation of the centuries, the Christian is not a stateless person.

He is a citizen of the city of men, with a soul full of the desire of God, whose love begins to glimpse already at this temporary stage, and in which he recognizes the end to which all of us who live on earth are called.

…The digression that I have just made has no other purpose than to reveal a central truth: to remember that the Christian life finds its meaning in God….

 The Good Friday liturgy includes a wonderful hymn: the Crux fidelis. In that hymn we are invited to sing and celebrate the glorious combat of the Lord, the trophy of the Cross, the clear triumph of Christ: the Redeemer of the Universe, being immolated, wins. God, owner of everything created, does not affirm his presence with the force of arms, and not even with the temporary power of his own, but with the greatness of his infinite love.

The Lord does not destroy the freedom of man: precisely He has set us free. So he doesn’t want forced answers, he wants decisions that come out of the intimacy of the heart. And he expects us Christians to live in such a way that those who treat us, above our own miseries, mistakes and deficiencies, notice the echo of Calvary’s love drama. We have received everything we have from God, to be salt that season, light that brings to men the new joy that He is a Father who loves without measure.

The Christian is salt and light of the world not because he wins or triumphs, but because he bears witness to the love of God; and it will not be salt, if it does not serve example and with his doctrine, he does not offer a testimony of Jesus, if he loses what constitutes the to salt; it will not be light if, with his reason for being of his life.

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