Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Homily for the Solemn Celebration of the Passion of the Lord Year A 2020 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta
10 April 2019
The passion account of Jesus that we have just heard on this solemn day is somber and tragic.
The crowds that had cheered him turned against him; the disciples who had pledged loyalty to him deserted him; his enemies succeeded in their conspiracy against him.
The entire project of restoration that Jesus had undertaken, and his followers had hung their hats on came crashing down. His cry of abandonment sums it all up.
What a reversal of expectations! Dream turned into nightmare; hope into disillusionment and optimism into delusion. This totally unexpected ending was an unmitigated disaster. So, it appeared.
Expecting the unexpected can be so difficult for us. The current crisis of the pandemic has taken the world by surprise. In this atmosphere of hysteria and the survival of the fittest syndrome, spare a thought for the elderly, the sick, the disabled and other vulnerable members of our society. They are the ones who bear the brunt of the crisis.
As the disciples of Jesus, we ask ourselves as to how we can live moment of crisis and turn it into a catalyst for transformation, just as He himself reversed the worst of the unexpected.
The Good News is that it was not evil that ultimately prevailed. On Good Friday and on the cross, it was love that truly triumphed against all odds. Even though the passion story ends with tragedy, Jesus shows us that suffering, and death, born for the sake of others, have transformative power. Indeed, they lead to new levels of being, living and relating.
They enable us to enter into communion with the God of love, to expand the boundaries of life even in the here and now. This is the great paradox that Jesus taught and lived: life is lived fully and fruitfully not by surrendering it to self-survival instincts or the dominating powers. Life is fully and fruitfully lived when it can make a difference to others, that it can transform society and make it into a mirror of God’s Kingdom.
Good Friday is truly a victory of God over evil. It is His love in Jesus that prevails. Despite the menacing power of sin and darkness, God’s yes in Jesus triumphs for all eternity.
May we have the courage to be our best even in the worst possible scenarios, following the one who followed not the script of the empire but the God of reversals and surprises, the God who writes straight on crooked lines, the God whose love nothing can destroy.
May our discipleship and witness to his self-giving love be brought to fulfilment in accordance with God’s vision of the fullness of life for all humanity.