Given by Cardinal Nichols at the Solemn Commemoration of the Passion of the Lord, Good Friday, 19th April 2019, at Westminster Cathedral.
This is the hour. The hour of Jesus has come.
Jesus often said, as at the wedding feast of Cana, that his hour had not yet come. But now that moment has come. And we are here to enter into it.
What do we see and hear? Jesus arrested; spending a night in a pit which served as a dungeon; facing a rigged trial; being tortured and then executed: death on a cross. This is the hour which had to come.
What does Jesus tell us about this hour?
In the great prayer of the Last Supper, Jesus makes everything clear. He prays: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son that your Son may give glory to you’ (Jn 17:1). Then he adds: ‘Now, Father, it is time for you to glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world was made’ (Jn 17.5).
So this is the hour, yes, of suffering, but of glory too. It is the moment determined by the Father for the fulfilment of the work of salvation. Jesus tells us that in this hour he ‘is doing exactly what the Father told me.’ He embraces this hour adding: ‘Get up. Let us be going!’ (Jn 14:31).
This is the hour that makes clear who it is that hangs on the Cross. He is the only Son of the Father, truly God in our flesh. This is the hour that makes clear the very heart of God: an unwavering love that is stronger than death (Sg 8:6). Indeed, Jesus tells us: ‘To have seen me is to have seen the Father...it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work’ (Jn 14:10).
This is the hour, Jesus tells us, in which the Holy Spirit of God is again poured out to renew the face of the earth, the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:17), the Spirit of peace (Jn 14:27), the Spirit who makes us witnesses (Jn 15:26).
This is the hour in which we are entrusted by Jesus into the hands of the Father (Jn 17:11), in which we are bound to each other by his words to Mary and John from the Cross.
This is the hour in which he tells us that we have been chosen by the Father to be companions of his Son (Jn 17:6) and so the opposition and cynicism we experience as his disciples do not really matter (Jn 15:11) because the Father and the Son will come to make their home in us (Jn 14:23). He is with us always (Jn 17:26).
This is the hour in which he becomes the holy and living Sacrifice who takes away our sins. His self-offering continues to be made real in every celebration of the Mass in which he is always ‘our supreme high priest’ (Heb 4:14).
This is the hour in which we come to venerate him on his Cross of glory for he is ‘the source of eternal life for all who obey him’ (Heb 5:9). He shines on us from the Cross as the beacon of hope and healing in our world.
This is the hour. Come, let us adore him.