Pope Francis presided over the Passion Liturgy on Friday afternoon – Good Friday – the day on which the whole Church recalls the suffering, crucifixion, and death of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Not a Mass, for Good Friday is the one day in all the year on which nowhere in the Latin Church is the sacrifice offered, the liturgy of Good Friday unfolds in silence broken by readings from Sacred Scripture and punctuated by the singing of short tracts.
As is Custom at the Passion liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Preacher of the Papal Household delivered the homily.
The Preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., spoke of God’s mercy as the Divine response to sinful man, offered freely and lovingly in keeping with Divine Justice – according to the Divine nature. “The love of God reached human beings at the farthest point to which they were driven in their flight from him, death itself,” said Fr. Cantalamessa. “The death of Christ needed to demonstrate to everyone the supreme proof of God’s mercy toward sinners,” he continued.
The Preacher of the Papal Household explained that God’s mercy is not in tension with His justice, but is a manifestation of it. The opposite of mercy is vengeance – also mysteriously satisfied in God’s self-sacrifice on the Cross.
“Heavenly Father,” concluded Fr. Cantalamessa, “by the merits of your Son on the Cross who ‘became sin for us’, remove any desire for vengeance from the hearts of individuals, families, and nations, and make us fall in love with mercy: let the Holy Father’s intention in proclaiming this Year of Mercy be met with a concrete response in our lives, and let everyone experience the joy of being reconciled with you in the depth of the heart.”
The Cross is the word through which God has responded to evil in the world.