The Passion of Jesus moves us to repentance

Homily for Good Friday

by Fr. Tommy Lane

I think it would be fair to say that we cannot even imagine how much Jesus suffered for us. A help at understanding Jesus’ Passion and what he did for us is the movie The Passion of the Christ. Just one detail from that movie that never appears on screen helps us to begin to imagine what Jesus did for us. During the scourging at the pillar there was a shield hidden from the camera put over Jim Caviezel’s back who plays Jesus in the film. But during one blow the Roman soldier missed the shield. The pain was so intense that Jim was not able to cry out, he lost his breath, and the shock was so much that he cut his hands on the chains holding him to the pillar. Afterwards the make-up artist modeled the other wounds on his back on that real wound.

The first reading today (Isa 52:13-53:12), which is a most beautiful prophecy from Isaiah, describes Jesus’ Passion. It highlights Jesus’ sufferings and that it was for our sins Jesus suffered.

The crowds were appalled on seeing him
So disfigured did he look
That he seemed no longer human...

Ours were the sufferings he bore,
Ours the sorrows he carried...

He was pierced through for our faults,
Crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings us peace
And through his wounds we are healed...

For our faults he was struck down in death...

By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
Taking their faults on himself. (Isa 52:14; 53:4-5, 8, 11)

How do we react to Jesus’ suffering for us? We are moved to sorrow for our sins which nailed Jesus to the cross. We are moved to repent of our sins, to turn our backs on sin and walk from the cross as new people. Again details from the movie The Passion of the Christ that do not make it onto the screen show this. Many conversions took place among the actors during the filming of the movie. After they had finished shooting the film they went to a studio to do the voice-overs. When some of the Roman soldiers had to say their lines they were too upset to say anything. A deep meditation on Jesus’ passion moves us, moves to leave sin behind, because as we meditate on Jesus’ passion we see the effects of our sins. A Norwegian neo-Nazi confessed to two bombings after a pang of repentance triggered by watching The Passion of the Christ. Johnny Olsen went to police after watching the movie and admitted that he was behind the previously unexplained bombings against anarchist squatters in Oslo in 1994 and 1995 during a wave of street fights between neo-Nazis and anarchists during which no one died. Olsen was then charged with arson. Also in March 2004 a Texan man admitted to murdering a 19-year-old pregnant woman after seeing the movie. (Both confessions were reported in The Miami Herald on March 29, 2004.)

Many passages in the Scriptures remind us that the death of Jesus challenges us to leave sin behind.

For our sake he made the sinless one a victim for sin, so that in him we might become the uprightness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)

He was bearing our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to our sins and live for uprightness; through his bruises you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

Christ himself died once and for all for sins, the upright for the sake of the guilty, to lead us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

Therefore, as Paul would say, we crucify sin in us so that Jesus will live in us.

“I have been crucified with Christ and yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me.” (Gal 2:19)

“All who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with all its passion and its desires.” (Gal 5:24)

Meditating on Jesus’ Passion moves to repent of our sins, to turn our backs on sin and walk from the cross as new people.

Ours were the sufferings he bore,
Ours the sorrows he carried...

He was pierced through for our faults,
Crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings us peace
And through his wounds we are healed (Isa 53:4-5)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More for Good Friday

Related Homilies: Jesus gave his life as an offering for our sin and bore our guilt (first reading) 2012

The Passion of Jesus shows us up as sinners and heals us

Jesus’ Sufferings Revealed by the Turin Shroud

The Sudarium, the Face-Cloth of Christ

Gethsemane and crucifixion

Largest Known Relic of the True Cross in Santo Toribio, Spain

The Miraculous Crucifix in Limpias

Love of God for us 2009

mp3 meditation: Seven Last Words of Jesus (1,2,3) from Let’s Talk to Jesus

mp3 meditation: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (4) from Let’s Talk to Jesus

mp3 meditation: Jesus on the Cross Thirsting for our Love (5) from Let’s Talk to Jesus

Do you love me?

Lamb of God

Jesus paid the price for our sins
St Margaret of York, Eucharistic Martyr, martyred on Good Friday