Ars Praedicandi: Homily for Good Friday

Deacon Jim Pauwels of St. Edna Parish in Arlington Heights, Illinois, passed along his homily for Good Friday:

… And so, the Son of God died. Knowing everything that was going to happen to him, he chose to die. This man Jesus, who need never have died, this man indeed who need never have lived on earth as we live, chose to live, and chose to die.

In John’s account of the Passion which we just heard, at least six different times we’re told that all these things were said or done in order to fulfill what had already been prepared. All of this, everything, was foreordained. All that we just heard was to fulfill what Scripture had already told us would happen, or that Jesus himself had already told us would happen. What was just proclaimed here didn’t come about by chance. The groundwork for tonight was laid beforehand: it was laid earlier in Jesus life; it was laid by the prophets, centuries earlier; it was laid eons before, when the world was created; it was laid outside the confines of time and space. Jesus already knew everything that was going to happen to him. What he said, and did, was to fulfill a plan. The words and deeds that were just proclaimed to us, all went according to plan.

This master plan, this marvelous plan whose working-out startled nations and struck kings speechless, this plan included the milestone that Jesus, the Son of God, was going to die. And the reason he chose to die, was so that we might live. Jesus died so that we might have life.

God died for us – that was the plan. Everything that happened beforehand laid the groundwork that led up to that grand, terrible, unexpected, undeserved, unfathomable act of love. God the Son was born as a human being, and lived among us, and worked mighty deeds and revealed many things about God to us, so that God could die – for us. The whole reason, the point of the whole plan, was for our sakes.

God died so that we could live. That was the way that God chose for us to be able to live. We couldn’t live – we can’t live – by ourselves. By ourselves, all we can do is be born, and sin, and die. We can’t save ourselves.  If we will live – and we will live – it is because, and only because, God died for us.

Tonight we find ourselves immersed in these two mysteries. The first mystery is that Jesus, who had no need of his own to come among us, nevertheless came among us, in order to die for us. And the second mystery is that we – we who don’t want to die and who live most of our lives as though we will never die, and yet we will surely die; but … because God the Son died for our sake, beyond death we will live. God died so that we might live. That’s God’s plan for us. And Jesus, the Son of God, loved us so much, still loves us so much, that he fulfilled the plan, even unto death.  Because he loved us. Because he still loves us. What love that is!  In the face of such love, upon receiving that much and that kind of love, what left is there to say, except, thank you?

In a few moments, we’ll kneel before the cross. If I may, I’d like to suggest that that would be an appropriate prayer at that time: Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

If you have any resources, homilies, or suggestions for this series, feel free to email Nathan at or fill out the form in the “Non Solum Question box” on the Pray Tell homepage.

One comment

  1. Is the Paschal Mystery best characterized as a “plan”? If so, what’s the mystery? If, come to find out, God’s interaction with us is all predetermined, foreordained, scripted, then I will be sorely disappointed. Maybe God doesn’t play dice with the universe, but I hope that the divine creativity allows for more than a bit of play and freedom. Almost 50 years ago, Raymond Nogar wrote a little book, The Lord of the Absurd. Whenever I hear someone talk about “God’s plan,” I remember Nogar and take some comfort in his brand of hope.

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