A Good Friday Sermon from Fr. David Simmons, ObJN
To: My beloved people
From: Jesus Christ, Son of the living God
on Good Friday
I was listening to the stations of the cross you were celebrating today in my honor, and I heard an interesting prayer:
“Teach your Church, O Lord, to mourn the sins of which it is guilty, and to repent and forsake them; that, by your pardoning grace, the results of our iniquities may not be visited upon our children and our children’s children; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
I’m glad you’re praying to me, and I’m glad you’re thinking of the future, but I’m concerned how you might take this prayer. You almost might think from it that my father is into punishing you for the things you do wrong. You might even think that he’s into punishing your children and your grandchildren. While there are plenty of bad fathers in the world, please rest assured that my father is not one of those. My father loved you all into existence and called you very good. He knows your limitations. In regards to those things you have done and have left undone, he looks at you with pity and not with blame. He cannot forgive you, because he never blamed you, or hated you, or wished harm to you and never will.
The prayer could also be read in a very good way, in that by asking that your iniquities not be visited upon your descendants, that you are finally admitting that it is your own actions that are causing lasting harm in the world. I was listening to NPR the other day, which I do a lot. A journalist was talking about the time he went to Somalia to cover the great famine there. He said they walked into the hotel to find great mounds of food welcoming them, while people were literally starving on the streets below. In one heartbreaking case he related how a father had watched his son die of starvation in a hospital, then had carried his body out into the street past booths of food which he did not have the money to buy. The journalist explained that famine never has to do with supply, but with distribution. You don’t need my father to punish you - as a race, you do a pretty good job punishing yourselves. You are experts at ignoring the long-term consequences of your decisions, so that your own wrath is visited upon your children and your children’s children.
Folks, I didn’t come to earth and become one of you to appease my father’s wrath. I came to save you from your own. I came to instill my divinity into humanity so that humanity might become humane. When my suffering was over on the cross, I did not turn to my father and ask if he was pleased. I cried, “It is accomplished!” I turned to humanity, and I turn to each one of you and ask, “Is it enough? Are you satisfied? Have I proven to you once and for all that God does not desire your death or that of any of you? Looking upon the soldiers gambling over my belongings, can you continue to disregard the needs of the poor? Looking upon the tortured ruin of my body, can you continue to torture each other? God himself has died there at your hands. Having crucified God, can you continue to crucify each other in your daily lives? Can you continue to hate? ”
Beloved, God is love, and I am God. Humanity crucified love. That is not the end of the story. In three days, you’ll see. All shall be well. But for now, it is right for you to gaze upon my body on the cross, and for you to remember that it was not God that put me there, but humanity. And should it be nothing to you as you pass by, it is not God’s wrath that shall be visited upon your children and your children’s children, but the wrath you hold so dear in your hearts. I came to save you. It is accomplished. All that remains is for you to accept the freedom I have purchased from your own selves.
Yours Truly, Jesus Christ,
a true lover of your soul