Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Sermon of Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.S.O.

Below is the text of Fr. Aidan Logan's sermon which was delivered during the Tre Ore service at Assumption Grotto.  He is seen above taking the Blessed Sacrament from the Altar of Repose to the main Altar just before Communion on Good Friday.

Good Friday, 2014
Assumption Grotto Church, Detroit

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
“Not a bone of it will be broken.”
And again another passage says:
“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”

We are so used to hearing the gospel accounts of our Lord’s passion and death that we can miss things that that for those who wrote them and who first heard them were of great importance. The piercing of our Lord’s side and the blood and water that poured out is a case in point. Jesus is dead. The perfect and eternal sacrifice is complete. What more can be said? A great deal!

In sacred scripture blood is much more than a biological phenomenon. Blood is the very stuff of life. We might even say that for Moses and the prophets blood was where the soul resided. And in a certain sense they were right. Remove the blood or stop the heart of any living thing and death is inevitable.

From the very beginning blood has almost a personality of it’s own. Behold, said God to Cane, your brother’s blood is crying out  from the ground. The blood of the Passover Lamb saved the firstborn of Israel. The covenant of Sinai was sealed with blood sprinkled upon the altar, the book of the law and the people. The Law of Moses forbade the consumption of blood and contact with blood rendered one ritually impure. Because the spilling of blood meant death, contact with blood incurred, if not absolute guilt, then at least involvement in death.

This explains why the crowd was so perplexed and even outraged  when, in response to their question “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  Jesus said: Unless you eat he flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.

One of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance and immediately the flowed out blood and water. Not just a trickle but a flow and in reality an overwhelming torrent! For this is not any ordinary blood and water coming from a dead body hanging on a cross. This is the lifeblood of God-made-man.

In St. Matthew’s passion narrative we read:
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”  These chilling words, like so much else in the passion of Christ, are words of unintended prophesy. Uttered in hatred they reveal to us the infinite love of God.
Is it not better that one man should die for the people? … All hail, king of the Jews! … I find no guilt in him. … Over his head they wrote the accusation: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

His blood be upon us and upon our children. And it is. It is upon all of us. By our sins we are all implicated in his death. By his mercy we are washed clean of sin in his blood. His blood cries out from the ground more loudly and eloquently than that of Able. Not to accuse of sin but to call down upon us the mercy and love of God. His blood marks the doorposts of our souls warding off the angel of eternal death and beaconing that angel who will lead us to eternal life. His blood be upon us and upon our children.

This flow, this mighty torrent of blood and water is the sacramental life of the Church. It is inexhaustible. It springs up wherever the waters of Baptism flow, wherever the Chalice of Salvation is lifted up. Our Lord calls to each of us from the royal throne of his cross:
Washed and be made clean! Come, drink of the fountain of eternal life!

His blood be upon us and upon our children. What better prayer can we offer on this Good Friday? How else can we respond to the infinite love of God revealed to us on the cross? Is there any other way to accept with all our hearts the boundless mercy and compassion of God revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ than to say with all our hearts: His blood be upon us and upon our children?

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
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