His Grace, Archbishop Bernard Longley
It is accomplished.
Today we meet each other at the foot of the cross. The arms of Jesus stretched out upon the cross draw us from all corners of the earth. It is the still centre of God’s creation and of human history where all our lives converge. All the pathways we have trodden meet at this point, under the sign of Jesus’ triumph over sin and death.
When we come to the foot of the cross we are not alone with the crucified one. His mother is there beside him together with St John. We have just listened to St John’s Gospel proclaiming the events of the Passion in a way that touches our hearts because we know that he has recalled what he has witnessed – and what he witnessed changed his life completely.
It is accomplished. With those words our Lord’s earthly life and the torture of his terrible death come to an end – but they end with an meaning and purpose. What Jesus accomplished through the sacrifice of his own life is salvation for the world and this is what we celebrate at every Mass.
As we look up at the Lord upon his cross we hold in our minds the image of his Last Supper, when he took bread, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying This is my body. On Calvary he freely gave his body to the executioners, it was broken for our sins and the fruit of his death is shared with all humanity in the gift of new life, the life of the resurrection.
When we approach the cross to venerate it today we hear the Reproaches from the Book of Lamentations: My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me. Here is another echo from St John’s Gospel, where our Lord speaks these words of reproof: You study the scriptures, believing that in them you have eternal life; now these same scriptures testify to me, and yet you refuse to come to me for life!
Today, Lord, we do not refuse to come to you for life. We approach the foot of your cross, in sorrow for our own sins and for the sins of the world – yet also confident that you will raise us up with yourself to the new life of Easter. We adore thee, O Christ, and we praise thee. Because by thy holy cross thou hast redeemed the world.
For more images see: http://www.stchadscathedral.org.uk/gallery/