Being the Lord of Grace, the Author and Finisher of our faith, our Eternal King, the Lover of our souls, and our Guide and Guardian, Jesus wills finally to be our Daily Sacrifice. In this last of Blessed Newman’s reflections for Good Friday, we hear of God with us.
It did not satisfy Jesus to offer himself on the cross for the benefit of those who witnessed this historical event; for all that would come after he desired to “…perpetuate my Sacrifice, that each of them may be as though they had been severally present on Calvary. I will offer Myself up day by day to the Father, that every one of my followers may have the opportunity to offer his petitions to Him, sanctified and recommended by the all-meritorious virtue of my passion.” This he does of his of his own will – “My priests shall stand at the altar – but not they, but I rather, will offer.” There is great power in these words Newman imagines coming from the mouth of Christ. They are spoken with authority and tenderness at the same time. His power is in weakness: the laying down of his life for us. No one else has ever had the capacity for this kind of love.
Nor is he content to let his body and blood be represented in this sacrifice; he wants to be there himself: “I will not let them offer mere bread and wine, but I myself will be present upon the Altar instead, and I will offer up myself invisibly, while they perform the outward rite.”
He offers himself fully and faithfully. “He makes Himself a perpetual, a daily sacrifice, to the end of time,” as if to prove those words in the epistle to the Hebrews, “…for he has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” In the end, this is the nature of love, for it draws us toward our beloved. And this means we are God’s beloved.
If we are ever to believe this, it is on this Good Friday, when we come face to face with our Jesus who offers his whole life for us. It is only by the mercy of God that when we contemplate this truth, our hearts expand like a balloon filling with air, and yet they do not burst. Each of Newman’s meditations for this day are a reminder that God who is beyond our comprehension is at the same time present to us in the most intimate way.
Newman closes by praying for “for all who day by day have calls upon us.” Why this prayer? Because we have been given “the gift,” as Newman says, to pray for ourselves and intercede for others in the Mass. He ends, “Bring us all after the troubles of this life into the haven of peace, and reunite us all together for ever, O my dear Lord, in Thy glorious heavenly kingdom.”
Today, we pause to see our Lord upon the cross. He gazes back at us with tenderness. He has offered us his whole life. We say to him, “Yes, Dear Lord. Help me to give myself daily to you, as you have given yourself daily to me.”