Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino


 Good Friday Veneration of the Cross:

Arms Outstretched Embracing Us


            A number of years ago I purchased a bronze sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It is a copy of a late sixteenth early seventeenth century Flemish corpus of Jesus Christ that was meant for a procession cross.  I like to keep it on the wall of my bedroom.  To me it shows Jesus hanging between heaven and earth, uniting both.  His outstretched arms are fastened to a cross. And yet He embraces us.


            A while ago, Fr. Kevin and I were reflecting on how mission preachers used to point to the cross and shout out, “Your sins did this.”  They were wrong.  Our sins did not crucify Jesus.  He willingly took our sins upon Himself and then offered Himself as the Paschal sacrifice.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.


            He is suspended between heaven and earth and at the same time He unites heaven and earth.  He is nailed to a cross, and at the same time He embraces us.  And He tells us, “Give me you sins, give me your temptations, give me your trials.  Give them to me.  Give it all to me.  Give me your concerns.  Give me your fears.  Give me your sickness.  Give me your challenges.  Give me your lives.  Let me hug them out of you.  Let me conquer all evil for you.”


            And so we approach the cross today, the instrument of torture that was transformed by infinite love into  the instrument of peace.  We venerate the cross today.  I would like to encourage us all to do something a bit different this year .  Instead of seeing ourselves here in Tarpon Springs in 2017, let’s let our imaginations transport us to Jerusalem, to that horrible hill of two thousand years ago, to that hill outside of the city where Jesus died.  And let’s venerate that cross.  For the instrument of torture has been transformed by God Himself into an instrument of Love.  And the death which the world still thinks is a defeat, has become the Victory of Life.


                         Light of the world

                         You stepped down into darkness.

                         Opened my eyes, let me see.

                         Beauty that made this heart adore You

                         Hope of a life spent with You        


                         I'll never know how much it cost

                         To see my sin upon that cross


                          So, here I am to worship,

                          Here I am to bow down,

                          Here I am to say that You're my God

                          You're altogether lovely, altogether worthy

                   Altogether wonderful to me © Hillsong United CCLI License  #2368115