By Peter Jennings.
The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, celebrated and preached at the 3pm Good Friday Liturgy, held at the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, on 29 March 2013.
The narrative of the Lord’s Passion according to St John was read, followed by the Solemn Intercessions and the Adoration of the holy Cross by which Jesus Christ redeemed the world.
During his homily, Archbishop Bernard Longley said: “In St John’s account of the Passion we have drawn near to Jesus on the cross so that we can see his sacrifice with eyes that are already enlightened by our experience of his resurrection.
“Through baptism we have joined with our Lord sacramentally in his death and resurrection – so it is as children of the resurrection that we approach the cross, longing for a more profound understanding of what Christ’s sacrifice means for us personally and for the world.
“When we draw near to Jesus on the cross we are also close to those who were with him at this moment of suffering and sacrifice. Apart from John himself it is the women who remain strong in this moment of trial and adversity.
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother supported by the other two Marys. We must add to his sacrifice the suffering of our Lady – the anguish of a mother who sees her child die in anguish and pain. For our Lord the suffering of his mother adds to the burden of the cross.
“We remember today parents and families who have recently lost their children through senseless acts of violence: the two Big Issue sellers murdered in Birmingham city centre, the young girl attacked on her way to school in Edgbaston, the children who have died in Syria. On the cross our Lord also suffered to lift and ease their burden by drawing them near to himself.
“Today we are united around the cross with our Lady of Sorrows and with each other in bonds of love and faith. We are united with all those who venerate the cross year by year – especially with those who have suffered and who have looked on the cross as a source of hope and strength.
“We are united with Christians overseas who suffer because of their faith in the cross. Pope Benedict has often reminded us in Holy Week of the suffering Christians of the Holy Land and across the Middle East.
Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: “We always approach the cross broken and wounded but also anointed. By his wounds you have been healed. As we venerate the cross today let us be grateful that through Christ’s generous love our sins are forgiven and our broken and failing relationships with God and with each other are being healed and made whole.”