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BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought on Good Friday

Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Friday 22nd April 2011

The Archbishop of York provides a Pause for Thought for BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Programme on Good Friday. This follows...

Recently I visited the University of Huddersfield. A student asked me, "Of what possible significance is the death of a Jewish carpenter turned preacher in Palestine two thousand years ago?" Looking at my Salvadorian cross, he went on to say, "How could the most sadistic form of execution in the ancient Roman Empire, be good news for Christians? Why do you wear a symbol of a horrifying instrument of torture?"

I turned my cross back to front and read Archbishop Oscar Romero's words inscribed on it. "Peace will flower when love and justice pervade our environment." The Cross of Jesus, I said, has procured peace and justice.

It's in the Cross of Jesus that God discloses the essence of what it is to be God. His power is made manifest by his self-sacrifice and not self-assertion.

On the Cross Jesus does for us that which we couldn't do for ourselves. He cures our guilt, rebellion against God, shame, and transience. And gives us peace of mind, healing of relationships, forgiveness for ourselves, and the courage to forgive others.

As someone has said, the Cross is a symbol of violence, but paradoxically it's the key to peace. It's a symbol of suffering, yet the key to healing. A symbol of death, yet the key to life. A symbol of utter weakness, yet the key to power. A symbol of capital punishment, yet the key to mercy and forgiveness. A symbol of vicious hatred, yet the key to love. A symbol of supreme shame, yet the Christian's supreme boast.

C S Lewis said, "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken." The Cross of Jesus is like the underside of a piece of embroidery - revealing a tangled mess of pain and suffering. But the beautiful front side has a clear message writ large: GOD IS LOVE.

Have a Good Friday.

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