WASHINGTON, D.C. — Standing at the foot of the cross on Good Friday with Mary, we look upon her crucified Son, asking God, “Why did he have to die? Couldn’t there be some other way?” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said in a homily April 10.
“Today we are also asking God: Why this coronavirus? Why have you allowed this disease and death to descend on our world?” he continued. “We know that Jesus on the cross is the only answer. In the heart of Christ — wounded by the soldier’s spear, pierced by our sins — we see how much God loves the world. We see how precious we are in our Father’s eyes.”
The homily by Gomez, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was part of a national prayer service he led U.S. Catholics in from the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles as “a special moment of unity” at a time when the nation’s churches are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The cathedral was empty except for Gomez, three priests, a lector and a musician playing a keyboard and singing hymns.
“As we stand today at the foot of his cross, in the midst of this pandemic, Jesus is calling us to trust in his Sacred Heart,” the archbishop said in his homily. “Let’s pray often to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: ‘Jesus, I trust in you! Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, en ti confio.’”
The faithful know that God will provide, he continued. “He has a plan of love for his creation, a plan of goodness and mercy for every nation and for every heart.
“Jesus does not die for no reason. Good Friday is ‘good’ because it opens the way to Easter Sunday. God gave his own Son for us. So, we know that he will deliver us from this evil of the coronavirus. The cross shows us that his love for us is stronger than death.”
As Catholics, we are living in “the moment of Christian witness,” he said. Jesus has opened up his heart for all, given his life “out of love for us” and now calls “us to entrust our lives to him — our whole heart, our whole mind; all our feelings and thoughts, our words and actions.”
Right now Jesus is inviting everyone in the church “to take up our cross and to follow him along the path of humble love, the path of reverence for God and,service to our neighbors,” Gomez said. “God’s mercies are not spent! Faith, hope, and charity have not died!”
Faith, hope and charity, he continued, are being witnessed by us all “in a beautiful way every day during this pandemic — in our hospitals and homes, in our parishes and ministries, in every quiet, unseen act of self-sacrifice and service in our families and communities.”
God wants all of his people to learn in this time of worldwide crisis “that we are one family, one body united in the blood and water that flows from the heart of Christ, joined together in a beautiful, supernatural solidarity of compassion,” he said.
Archbishop Gomez urged the faithful to “love one another, joining our sufferings to the heart of Christ, open for us on the cross. Let us sacrifice for one another, take care of one another, forgive one another.”
He repeated: “Jesus, I trust in you! Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, en ti confio.’”
He prayed Mary will intercede for us “in her sorrows today.”
“May she help us to be meek and humble of heart, and to persevere in this Good Friday of disease and death, to hasten to the Easter morning of the Resurrection,” he concluded.
With special permission received from the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, a plenary indulgence was available for those who joined Archbishop Gomez on Good Friday in praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart.
A plenary indulgence removes all of the temporal punishment due to sins and may be applied to oneself or to the souls of the deceased (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1471).
To receive this indulgence, the faithful were asked to pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart on Good Friday; and to be truly repentant of any sins they have committed and receive the sacrament of reconciliation (at the earliest opportunity); and pray for Pope Francis’ intentions.