“After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” (John 19:28-30)
It is Good Friday, the commemoration of the Lord’s crucifixion. There is much that can be said and perhaps so much more that should be said about this day. Given that I have to offer what amounts to seven homilies this afternoon on the Seven Last Words of Christ, I think I will refrain from offering an eight. But I will say one thing, something that I don’t have the opportunity to mention this afternoon.
As you listen and reflect on the Passion Narrative this afternoon, keep in mind what is really happening. Don’t be too distracted by the myth that this sort of death was a one-time event in history. Jesus, the Word Incarnate, was executed, was killed as a criminal by capital punishment. Let this afternoon be an occasion to recall the systemic evil that capital punishment is in our world. There are many States in the United States that still execute human beings, may one of our prayers today be for that to end. If we believe in the inherent dignity of all human life, from conception to natural death, then we must stand up against the injustice of capital punishment.
My last plug, not because I want to promote myself (pretty sure I’m not worth the hype) but because I believe that all the Holy Triduum liturgies at St. Francis of Assisi Church on 31st Street are simply amazing: consider coming to Midtown Manhattan for the Good Friday services today. 12 Noon — Seven Last Words preached by me; 3:00pm the Service of the Lord’s Passion; 5:30pm Stations of the Cross. For more information: http://www.stfrancisnyc.org/