Good Friday: Invisible face of God made visible

Jesus came to manifest the invisible face of God. He made the real name of God known that is Mercy and real face of God that is Mercy.  From Incarnation to Crucifixion he went about revealing the invisible face of God, manifesting the real power of God, mercy. To include the excluded, to reach to the periphery and proclaim the joy of the Gospel he spent his life and died on the cross. I have come not to condemn the world but to redeem the world, he said. It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.  Neither do I condemn you he told the bewildered woman caught in adultery.  Who has not sinned, failed, fumbled, faltered and fallen?  Let him throw the first stone who has not sinned.   “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith in his blood… He justifies the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:23-26). 

Pope Francis has been urging the Church, and the world at large, to “get out of ourselves and go toward the periphery.” Jesus commanded his disciples to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). These last words of Jesus to his disciples urge them (and us) to “get out of themselves (ourselves) and go to the periphery.”  Self sufficiency and indifference can be killing others.

Where do we find the periphery? The dictionary definition of periphery is “the outside edge of an area or the area that surrounds a place or thing.” Pope Francis is referring to those areas that contain people who are social outcasts, on the “margins” of social acceptability, as being “the periphery.” He admonishes us to step outside of our comfort zones (another of Pope Francis’s frequent expressions) and to open our hearts to others, especially those who have been rejected by society.

In the Gospels, Samaritans are clearly “on the periphery” of Jewish society. So are lepers and those caught in sins such as adultery. As we read in St. Matthew’s Gospel, “While he was at table in his [Levi’s/Matthew’s] house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ He heard this and said, ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” ’ ” (Mt 9: 10–13).

In other words, the periphery is not confined to geography or social, economic or legal status or to our religious or political points of view. Anyone who is different from us stands outside our comfort zone. Getting outside ourselves and going to the periphery can mean any effort to reach out to others with compassion and understanding. It does not mean that we abandon our beliefs, principles or way of life. But it does mean that we open ourselves to those who are different from us and, in so doing, share with them the good news that all are loved by God and redeemed in Christ.

In his homily at Lampedusa, a large island near Sicily that has witnessed the tragic drowning of hundreds of African refugees attempting to find asylum in Italy, Pope Francis lamented what he called the anesthesia of the heart. “We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion for [suffering with] others; the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep!” “Anesthesia of the heart” is not a Christian virtue. As we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, let’s recommit ourselves to obeying Jesus’ command. Let’s go out of our comfort zones into the whole world, including the periphery, to proclaim his Good News!

We have the opportunity to make, on this Good Friday, the most important decision of our lives, one that opens wide before us the doors of eternity: to believe! To believe that "Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification" (Rom 4:25)! And we all have been commissioned to proclaim the joy of the Gospel that God loves the world unconditionally. Incarnation and crucifixion show the invisible face of the merciful God. Our challenge today: be merciful like the Father -  reach out, touch and heal the broken world.

ईश्वर मनुष्य बना ताकि मनुष्य ईश्वर के समान बन सके

Jesus: The Manifestation of God’s Merciful Love

If you want, the virgin will come walking down the road pregnant with the Holy and say:

"I need shelter for the night. Please take me inside your heart. My time is so close."
Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime intimacy, the divine, the Christ, taking birth forever.
As she grasps your hand for help, for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us.
Yes, there, under the dome of your being, does creation come into existence eternally-- through your womb, dear pilgrim--the sacred womb of your soul!
As God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is His beloved servant never far.
If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the street, pregnant with Light, and sing!

~ St. John of the Cross
Christ is born for us!  The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.  This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31. He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death. Gen 3:1-7. This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: Come to save us!
Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition Ex 3:7-12. The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.
Joyfully proclaim the message of Christmas: God became man; he came to dwell among us. God is not distant: he is “Emmanuel”, God-with-us. He is no stranger: he has a face, the face of Jesus. This message is ever new, ever surprising, for it surpasses even our most daring hope. First of all, because it is not merely a proclamation: it is an event, a happening, which credible witnesses saw, heard and touched in the person of Jesus of Nazareth! Being in his presence, observing his works and hearing his words, they recognized in Jesus the Messiah; and seeing him risen, after his crucifixion, they were certain that he was true man and true God, the only-begotten Son come from the Father, full of grace and truth . Jn 1:14.

Jesus made a big difference in the lives of all those who encountered him irrespective of caste, creed and nationality.  He made the lame walk, lepers clean, the deaf hear and the dumb speak.  He came not call the virtuous but sinners; not to condemn the world, but save the world; to give the good news that God loves us. Jesus said that it is the sick that needs a doctor and not the healthy.  He came to manifest the merciful face of God the Father.  Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness” Jn 8:12.  “I have come that you may have life and life in abundance”.  Jn 10:10.  Welcome Jesus Christ into your hearts and he will make your life better.  Happy  Christmas.