As all the chatter of daily life keeps our minds racing, Good Friday "calls us to stop, learn and listen," Bishop Richard J. Malone said during a Solemn Celebration of the Lord's Passion service at St. Joseph Cathedral.
"This is the day when the Church's liturgy, in its' starkest form, slams into us with a harsh truth of the consequences of humankind's sin; our sin," the bishop said. "Good Friday is the great wakeup call for the Church. Today we remember that this Nazarene named Jesus took the bullet for us."
The service also included a Gospel reading of the Lord's Passion from the Book of John, which depicts the condemnation of Jesus and His crucifixion. As Jesus suffered on the cross, he said, "I thirst," and someone placed a sponge soaked in wine to his mouth.
"'I thirst,'" Bishop Malone repeated in his homily. "What a stunningly commonplace, yet poignantly human, utterance on the lips of Jesus crucified. This is real thirst that the Gospel thinks of, the thirst that every human being knows so well.
Bishop Malone recalled memories of his own father, hours from death, desperately trying to find some relief as the bishop and his sister put small ice cubes on the father's lips.
"There's yet another meaning there, and it's that Jesus thirsts for us," Bishop Malone said. "He thirsts for our appreciation of His mercy, and for our surrender to that costly love. Love, after all, is what this week - this day - is all about. Christ's love saving us from death, hell and despair, love that He longs for us to come to know in a more personable way. It is our grateful acceptance of this love, this divine mercy that changes our lives and allows us to love, even when loving requires us to carry a cross. Humankind needs a savior, and that Jesus, in His passion, death and resurrection, is that savior. This is a truth that we should ponder every day of our lives."
Friday's service also featured an adoration of the Holy Cross, as it was brought to the foot of the cathedral altar. Bishop Malone and other clergy took the opportunity to venerate the cross during the service, while those in the congregation were able to take time with it after the celebration concluded.