If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other. He is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
Every Friday is a commemoration of the Crucifixion. That is why Catholics traditionally abstained from meat, why prayers and readings on Fridays are usually penitential, and why many go to confession or confess their sins privately to God on Fridays. It is the one day each week when we remember how much Jesus sacrificed for us on the cross.
“It is finished.”
Nothing is finished without something else beginning. Just as the dawn of each morning follows the dusk of each evening, just as Sunday follows Friday, the Resurrection follows the Crucifixion.
In our fallen world, death inevitably follows life. In God’s plan for us, new life just as inevitably follows death, so as long as we accept that new life.
Each ending is a new beginning. The old is finished so that the new may begin.
May we all become a new creation in him. May our old life be finished, and may our new life in Christ begin. New. Each Sunday. Each and every day as we become more and more like Jesus, a true child of God.
My five minutes are up, but I wanted to write a bit more about another “beginning.” Fourteen years ago today, Julia and I went on our first date. Neither of us knew it that day, but that date would be the beginning of our journey together through life. And a lot was finished for me that day too, including my loneliness, my faithlessness, and my long wandering through a spiritual wasteland. I’ve said many times that God brought Julia into my life to bring me back to him. It’s true. And as an extra reward he also brought an amazing woman into my life who would become my wife, and then gave us both an extraordinary daughter who would teach us how much love we were both capable of giving. I am grateful for that new beginning, for that first date, and for every other date and every other day since.
Today, he is pierced for our transgressions.
Today, is is crushed for our iniquities.
Today, the punishment that brings us peace is placed upon him.
Today, by his wounds, we are healed.
We are the ones that hurt him, the ones that put him on the cross, and yet he forgives us, and in his hurt he heals us.
He dies for us out of love for us, and his love is the glue that repairs our brokenness.
Water and blood, flowing from his side, filling and binding every wound, every break, and every crack that sin ever opened. Closing them and healing them forever.
For in the midst of death, we are in life. The tomb cannot contain him, and at Easter we shall be made new.
Today, I know that my Redeemer lives!
For he is the Resurrection and the Life.