Good Friday—Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

Ecce Homo—Behold the Man

In the movie, the Passion of Christ by Mel Gibson, Pedro Sarubbi played the character of Barrabas. He shared his powerful conversion experience during the movie. At the scene that he got released, the moment that he looked at Jesus, Mel Gibson told him, “Barrabas is like a ferocious dog, but at one moment he becomes a puppy: When he meets the Son of God and is saved. I want your look to be that of somebody seeing Jesus for the first time”. I did as he said, and when our eyes met I felt a sort of surge. It was like I was really seeing Jesus. I had never experienced such a thing in all my years of acting,” he stated.

At the look at Jim Caviezel played the character of Jesus, Pedro encountered a moment of conversion. At the look at Jesus after being scourged, humiliated and crowned with thorns, Pilate couldn’t recognize his human face, and all those was present there wanted to put him to death. Looking at Jesus on the Cross, what have you and I seen? Have we seen ourselves crucified the Lord Jesus? Have you and I recognized his human face disfigured? Or have you and I seen ourselves wanting to crucify him on the Cross?

Each of us has our own cross to carry, and some of us might have other crosses to carry. However, have we ever wondered what happened to us before we are conscious that we are carrying a cross or carrying some crosses? What is the cross that we are talking about here? The cross that we carry might be that of our job, working with so many hours and getting paid so little; busy with work and busy at home as well; instead of relaxing after work, we are busy with keeping up what’s going on face book; catching up with media activities instead of relaxing after a long day at work. Many of us cannot even go to work, and children have to stay home because of the pandemic of the coronavirus. We might want to go to the park or to the beach to catch some fresh air after so many days quarantine inside the house, but we cannot. When we go to the grocery stores for some groceries, we have to distance ourselves from others. We constantly wash our hands and use sanitizer more often to avoid infected by this dangerous virus. These and many other things that does not only our nation have to face now, but the whole world are facing this pandemic of coronavirus. It’s so great challenge our lives that we might feel the weight of the heavy cross heavies on our shoulders these days. But why have we equated these challenges and difficulties during this pandemic of coronavirus as the weight of the heavy cross? What happens to us before we are conscious of us carrying our own cross or the cross of others? To answer this question, let’s us examine the picture that John captured reported in today’s the Passion of the Lord.

St. John captured a powerful picture of Jesus’ face before his sentence to carry the cross. After being scourged and placed a thorn crown on his head, Pilate presented him to the people said, “hecce homo” translated, “Behold the man!” In the presence of the Prefect, Pontius Pilate, the chief priests, the soldiers, the guards, and the Jews, and perhaps, the entire human race, they all wanted to crucify Jesus whose appearance might be disfigured that Pilate said, “Behold the man!” Or rather saying, does he look like a man anymore? If you’ve ever watched the movie “The Passion of Christ” by Mel Gibson, Jesus’ face was all blood with a thorn crown placed on his head, one of his eyes couldn’t even open, or rather saying, his face was disfigured, not really a face of a human being any more. Did he bring it upon himself after healing the sick, curing the disease, defending for the widow and the oppressed, and even raising the dead back to life again? All of these good deeds that he performed that led him to this moment, didn’t he? Before Jesus carried the cross, he did many good things and comforted people with many good words, but why did they disfigure his face and made him carried a cross? Perhaps, it was because of their jealousy, their envy, their pride, their self-center, they disfigured the face of the Son of God, disfigured his human face and made him carried the cross.

What happened to us before this pandemic of coronavirus? Have we ever anticipated of what’s going to happen to us now? Unlike us that we didn’t know that today we have to face this pandemic of coronavirus, Jesus knew his hour come. He knew that he had to die for the sake of our salvation, but he didn’t expect that he had to die that way. His death was the death of a betrayal of one of his beloved disciples; his death was a death of being insulted and humiliated; his death was a death of scourged and afflicted. Just as the Lord Jesus was not afraid to face the suffering and humiliating even to the death, death on the cross, we are invited to have courage and strength to continue to have faith in the Lord and to help one another during this pandemic of coronavirus by learning to social distance ourselves to save lives and to help those healthcare workers and those are on the front line to save those who are infected by this dangerous virus. This tried time is a time to remind us to give thanks to God for those peaceful and happy years before this coronavirus hit us and to pray for the end of this pandemic.

The moment that we are conscious of carrying a heavy cross on our shoulder or carrying someone’s cross on our shoulder, the moment that we need to examine ourselves what causes us to carry a cross or carry someone’s cross? The moment we cheat it on our spouse, the moment we distant from our spouse, the moment that we don’t pay attention to our spouse’s needs or our children’s needs, the moment that we isolate ourselves in a secret place to fulfill our flesh desires, to fulfill our own pleasure, the moment that we don’t want to listen to our parents, our teachers, the moment that we cheat it on our homework, our tests, and many other moments, these are the moments and many other moments that we disfigure the human face of Jesus, disfigure his human dignity. When we disfigure his human face, it is when we disfigure our own human face which God created good right from the beginning of creation. With all the good things that Jesus did, they disfigured his human appearance before making him to carry a cross, what good things have we done in the relationship with our spouse, our children, with one another at work, in school, in our own community? Have we ever disfigured the face of our own, of others, especially of our loved one by the work of cheating, lying, criticizing, judging, manipulating, falsely testifying, verbally arguing, fighting, harboring lustful thoughts, hateful resentments, storing hatred and anger, and many other negative feelings and actions that might disfigure our human appearance or others’ human appearance? The cross that Jesus carried is the Holy Cross that brought salvation to the whole human race, what is the cross that we carry? The Cross that Jesus carried to bring salvation to the whole human race, what do you and I bring to ourselves and to others the cross that we carry in this walk of life? The Cross that Jesus carried to bring human salvation is the Holy Cross, what is the cross that you and I are carrying?


Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen

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