02 April 2021

Homily - Good Friday of the Lord's Passion - 2 April 2021

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion 

Dear brothers and sisters,

Many centuries ago, in one of his homilies for Christmas, Pope Saint Gregory the Great admonished his hearers, saying, “Christian recognize your dignity…”[1] How many Christians do not now know their dignity?

It is no secret that there are a great many people today – men, women, and children - who live without hope, who do not sense their own worth, who think they are not valued by anyone and so they have little love for themselves. They have been deeply wounded by abandonment by betrayal, by use and abuse, by greed and poverty, by hunger and thirst, and by sickness and isolation. Having forgotten what it is to be truly loved, they live without hope and often find themselves in a state of despair; they have forgotten their own dignity.

On this Friday which we call Good, we have a wondrous and inexhaustible reminder of our dignity as Christians. Today we remember that “it was in Christ that the unthinkable became a reality. In Christ, God showed that man was worth suffering for.”[2] Why does one willingly suffer for another if not because of love? Do not parents willingly suffer for their children and friends willingly suffer for each other? Do we not know that we are loved, at least in part, by how much someone is willing to suffer for us?

We do not like to think much about this central aspect of love; we prefer the more romantic notion. But, at its core, authentic and sincere love “seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.”[3]

Soon, brothers and sisters, we will gaze upon the wood of the Cross; we will see the unmistakable sign of Christ Jesus’ love for each one of us. We will see the proof of the pain he bore for us and of sufferings that he endured for us (cf. Isaiah 53:4). Standing, sitting, or kneeling before his Cross, how can we not see how much he loves us? How can we not recognize our dignity?

Ms. 64 (97.MG.21), fol. 86

To be loved by God who suffered and died for us while we were still sinners is to have a dignity so great that it cannot be taken away from us (cf. Romans 5:8 and 8:38). As we adore the Cross of our Savior, let us not leave it here; let us, rather, take it with us everywhere we go. Let us hold the Cross aloft so that all who see it will know what Christ suffered. Let us hold the Cross aloft so that all who see it will know that they have been redeemed. Let us hold the Cross aloft so that all who see it will recognize their dignity. Let us hold the Cross aloft so that all who see it will entrust themselves to the hands of his mercy. Let us hold the Cross aloft so that all who see it will know they are not forgotten but immensely and personally loved. Amen.

[1] Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Sermon 22 in Nativitatem Domini, 3.

[2] Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Seeking God’s Face: Meditations for the Church Year. David Smith and Robert Cunningham, trans. (Providence, Rhode Island: Cluny, 2020), 27.

[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Deus caritas est, 6.

01 April 2021

Homily - Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper - 1 April 2021

Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper (B) 

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this holy evening we commemorate the final meal of the Lord Jesus with the closest and most intimate of his friends. He had often eaten with them, and fed them, both with physical food and – more importantly – the food of his holy words. But tonight he does so seemingly for the last time as he prepares to give his life for them and for us.

Although our celebration this evening began in joy, it will end in sorrow as we experience Our Lord’s departure to the Garden of Gethsemane and his imprisonment in the cistern prior to his trial before Pontius Pilate. Tonight, therefore, we remember that “the love that drove Him to die for us was the same love that made Him give us Himself as nourishment. It was not enough to be giving us gifts, words, instructions; He gave us Himself as well.”[1] His Crucifixion is profoundly conjoined to the Last Supper.


We have gathered again, then, at the altar of the Lord to remember that the Lord Jesus “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Who are his own in the world if not those joined to him in the waters of Baptism? Yes, dear brothers and sisters, you and I are his own; he loved us to the end and gave himself up for us. What is more, his love is not simply something in the past tense, but also in the present tense; it is not just that he loved us, but that he loves us still (cf. Revelation 1:5).

It is his continual and ongoing love for us that we celebrate in every celebration of the Holy Mass, but on this night in a special way. He shows us the depths of his love for us in his washing of the feet of his disciples, in his giving of himself as our nourishment, and in his wondrous commitment to give his life for us, as he himself said (cf. John 13:14).

Those two little words, “for us,” carry such profound importance.

We can have no understanding of these words “for you” until we cleanse ourselves of every trace of sentimentality. We must clarify in our minds the degree of isolation Our Lord stood in, abandoned by all that might have helped, without the stimulating atmosphere pervading great affairs, no enthusiasm of any kind about Him, without the support of elan or natural drives or creative compulsion. He knows that men are lost. He knows they can only breathe in the freedom of salvation when satisfaction has been made for their sins. Life may only come to them through a death which He alone can die. He takes this for granted, starts from this premise. That is what is meant by the “for us.”[2]

Just as he asks those first disciples, so he asks each one of us: “Do you realize what I have done for you” (John 13:12)? We cannot fully realize what he has done for us unless we realize what it means that he has loved us to the end.

On first hearing, we might think that this phrase means he loved us to his death. This is not altogether incorrect; indeed, it is true. At the same time, however, it is not altogether complete. Saint Augustine tells us that this phrase, “to the end,” means “the end that consummates, not that consumes; the end whereto we attain, not wherein we perish,” which is to say the end as in the goal.[3] The goal of the Christian life, of course, is Christ Jesus; “he is our end; into Him do we pass.”[4]

We can pass into Christ as the goal of our lives because he continually nourishes us with the gift of himself. Whereas normal food is changed into us, with the Holy Eucharist – the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus – he changes us into himself by the strength and power of his love. Let us then this night renew our love for him in this night so that we might understand what he has done for us. Let us strive to draw so close to him as to be his close and intimate friends that we may truly be his own. Amen.

[1] Romano Guardini, Jesus Christ: A Classic Meditation on Christ by the Author of The Lord (Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 2012), 97.

[2] Ibid., 95-96.

[3] Saint Augustine of Hippo, Tractates on the Gospel of John, 55.2.

[4] Ibid.