Pope Francis on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, presided over the Celebration of the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica.  The homily was introduced by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

The Vatican-provided textual content of the homily:

When they got here to Jesus and noticed that he was already lifeless, they didn’t break his legs. But one of the troopers pierced his facet with a spear, and at as soon as there got here out blood and water. He who noticed it has borne witness – his testimony is true, and he is aware of that he tells the reality -that you additionally could consider. (Jn 19:33-35).

No one might persuade us that this solemn attestation doesn’t correspond to historic fact, that the one who says he was there and noticed it was actually not there and didn’t see it. What is at stake, on this case, is the honesty of the writer. On Calvary, at the foot of the cross, was the mom of Jesus and subsequent to her, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We have the testimony of an eye-witness!

He “saw” not solely what was occurring as everybody appeared on, however within the gentle of the Holy Spirit after Passover he additionally noticed the which means of what occurred: on this second the true Lamb of God was sacrificed and the which means of the traditional Passover was fulfilled; Christ on the cross was the brand new temple of God from whose facet, because the prophet Ezekiel predicted (47:1ff), flowed the water of life; the spirit that he gave up at the second of dying started the brand new creation, simply as to start with “the Spirit of God,” hovering over the waters, had remodeled the chaos within the cosmos. John understood the which means of Jesus’ final phrases: “It is fulfilled” (see Jn 19:30).

But why, we are able to ask ourselves, this unbounded focus on the importance of the cross of Christ? Why is the Crucified One omnipresent in our church buildings, on altars, and in each place frequented by Christians? Someone has instructed, as a key to understanding the Christian thriller, that God reveals himself “sub contraria specie,” underneath a kind opposite to what he’s in actuality: he reveals his energy in weak point, his knowledge in foolishness, his riches in poverty.

This key, nonetheless, doesn’t apply to the cross. On the cross God reveals himself “sub propria specie,” he reveals himself as he actually is, in his most intimate and truest actuality. “God is love,” John writes (1 Jn four:10), oblative love, a love that consists in self-giving, and solely on the cross does God’s infinite capability for self-gift manifest the size to which it should go. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1); “God so loved the world that he gave [meaning to death!] his only Son” (Jn three:16); “The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).


In this yr during which the Church will maintain a Synod on Young People and goals to have them as the middle of pastoral concern, the presence on Calvary of the disciple that Jesus cherished holds a particular message. We have each cause to consider that John joined Jesus when he was nonetheless fairly younger. It was an actual falling in love. Everything else out of the blue took second place. It was a “personal,” existential encounter. Whereas at the middle of Paul’s considering is the work of Jesus—his paschal thriller of dying and resurrection—at the middle of John’s considering is the being, the particular person, of Jesus. This is the supply of all of the “I am” statements with divine resonance that punctuate his Gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; “I am the door”; merely “I am.”

John was virtually actually one of John the Baptist’s two disciples who, when Jesus appeared on the scene, adopted him. When they requested, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” Jesus answered, “Come and see.” “They came and saw where he was staying; and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour” (see Jn 1:35-39). That hour determined the course of John’s life, and he by no means forgot it.

It is suitable throughout this yr that we make an effort to find along with younger folks what Christ expects from them, what they will provide the Church and society. The most necessary factor, nonetheless, is one thing else: it’s to assist younger folks perceive what Jesus has to supply them. John found it whereas staying with him: “fullness of joy” and “abundant life.” Let us do that in such a method that, in all of the speeches about younger folks and to younger folks, the heartfelt invitation of the Holy Father in Evangelii Gaudium will resonate as an undercurrent:

I invite all Christians, in every single place, at this very second, to a renewed private encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do that unfailingly every day. No one ought to suppose that this invitation just isn’t meant for her or him, since nobody is excluded from the enjoyment introduced by the Lord” (EG, n. three).

To encounter Christ personally remains to be doable immediately as a result of he’s risen; he’s a dwelling particular person, not a personage. Everything is feasible after this private encounter; with out it, nothing will probably be secure or enduring.


Besides the instance of his life, the evangelist John has additionally left a written message to younger folks. In his First Letter we learn these transferring phrases from an elder to the younger folks within the church buildings he based:

I write to you, younger males since you are robust, and the phrase of God abides in you, and you’ve got overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the issues on the planet. (1 Jn 2:14-15)

The world that we should not love and to which we shouldn’t be conformed, as we all know, just isn’t the world created and cherished by God or the folks on the planet whom we should all the time exit to satisfy, particularly the poor and people at the bottom degree of society. “Blending in” with this world of struggling and marginalization is, paradoxically, one of the best ways of “separating” ourselves from the world as a result of it means going within the route from which the world flees as a lot as it may well. It means separating ourselves from the very precept that guidelines the world, self-centeredness.

No, the world we should not love is one thing else; it’s the world because it has turn into underneath the dominion of Satan and sin, the “spirit of the air,” as St. Paul calls it (see Eph 2:1-2). It performs a decisive function in public opinion, and immediately it’s actually a spirit “of the air” as a result of it spreads itself in infinite methods electronically by means of airwaves. One well-known exegete writes that this spirit “is so intense and powerful that no individual can escape it. It serves as a norm and is taken for granted. To act, think or speak against this spirit is regarded as non-sensical or even as wrong and criminal. It is ‘in’ this spirit that men encounter the world and affairs, which means they accept the world as this spirit presents it to them.”1

This is what we name an adaptation to the spirit of the age, conformity. One nice believing poet from the final century, T. S. Eliot, has written three verses that say greater than complete books: “In a world of fugitives / The person taking the opposite direction / Will appear to run away.”2 Dear younger Christians, if you’ll permit an previous man like John to deal with you instantly, I might exhort you: be those that take the wrong way! Have the braveness to go in opposition to the stream! The other way for us just isn’t a spot however an individual; it’s Jesus, our buddy, and redeemer.

A process and a mission are significantly entrusted to you: to rescue human love from the tragic drift during which it had ended up: love that’s not a present of self however solely the possession—typically violent and tyrannical—of one other. God revealed himself on the cross as agape, the love that offers itself.

But agape isn’t dissociated from eros, from a love that welcomes, that pursues, that needs, and that finds pleasure in being cherished in return. God not solely workouts “charity” in loving us, he additionally needs us; all through the Bible, he reveals himself as a loving and jealous partner. His love can also be “erotic” within the noble sense of that phrase. This is what Benedict XVI defined in his encyclical Deus Caritas est:

Eros and agape—ascending love and descending love—can by no means be utterly separated. . . . Biblical religion doesn’t arrange a parallel universe, or one against that primordial human phenomenon which is love, however fairly accepts the entire man; it intervenes in his seek for love to be able to purify it and to disclose new dimensions of it. (nos. 7-Eight)

It just isn’t a query of renouncing the thrill of love, attraction, and eros however of realizing methods to unite eros and agape within the want for an additional, the flexibility to offer oneself to the opposite, recalling what St. Paul refers to as a saying of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

This capability, nonetheless, doesn’t come about in at some point. It is important to organize yourselves to make a complete reward of self to a different creature in marriage, or to God in consecrated life, starting by making a present of your time, of your smile, and of this era of your lives within the household, within the parish, and in volunteer work. This is what so many of you’re already quietly doing.

On the cross Jesus not solely gave us an instance of self-giving love carried to the acute; he additionally merited the grace for us to have the ability to carry it to cross, to some extent, in our lives. The water and blood that flowed from his facet involves us immediately within the sacraments of the Church, in God’s phrase, and even in simply wanting at the Crucified One in religion. One last item John noticed prophetically at the cross: women and men of each time and place who had been turning their gaze to “the one who was pierced” and who wept tears of repentance and of comfort (see Jn 19:37 and Zac 12:10). Let us be part of them within the liturgical actions that may observe.


[1] Heinrich Schlier, Principalities and Powers within the New Testament (New York: Herder and Herder, 1961), pp. 31-32.
[2] T. S. Eliot, Family Reunion, Part II, sc. 2, in The Complete Plays of T. S. Eliot (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), p.110.

English Translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson


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