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Passion Friday at the Cathedral

The Good Friday service at St. Peter Cathedral began as it customarily does with Ramsha. After a hymn by the choir, His Excellency, Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo gave the sermon. The following is a summary in English of the homily given by the Bishop.

When God created man, he made him with limitations. Though man has his own greatness and has the breath of God in him, he is not God. That is why when God put Adam and Eve in the garden, he gave them a single stipulation, “of this fruit, you many not eat.” The sin of Adam and Eve is that they overstepped their boundary. They went beyond their limitation and claimed something that was not theirs to covet. God placed them in the garden, he gave them access to every fruit and all goodness, but that was not enough for them – they wanted to claim ownership. Adam and Eve forgot that what they had been given was a gift from God.

There were two trees in the garden, the one that caused the fall of Adam and Eve, and the one that would save them. Both of these trees were guarded by an angel, the one because of their sin and the other was to be guarded until the appointed time.

Today, on a Friday, man cut down a tree and placed it on the shoulders of Christ. He carries this tree all the way to Golgotha and there they plant it on the hill. They then crucify our Lord to this very tree. Remember the garden. Remember the tree that was to be guarded until the appointed time. The tree was planted and its fruit hung for our salvation. And standing at the foot of the cross was Mary, the one who bore the fruit that brought us life.

Brothers and sisters, if one were to ask what is within this fruit that gives us life, what would he find? We are proud and greedy; we reach for more than is our right. The fruit that is Christ is gentle, obedient and loving. Christ is in contrast to everything we are. The angel and his sword still guard the tree and its fruit of life, and it is only one who comes in humility and gentleness that the angel allows to pass and stand beside Mary at the cross.

Our Lord paid the price for our sin with his life. He is the fruit of life that will bring us to everlasting life and unless we become a sacrifice as he became one, we are not worthy to eat of it. Therefore, let us break the hardness of our hearts and stand at the foot of the cross with Mary and offer ourselves to the son who loved us to death.

After the homily, the congregation participated in the carrying of the sepulchre around the church. The faithful were then invited to come and kiss the cross. Throughout the evening, the Chaldean Choir as well as the shamashe and different sodalities sang hymns for Passion Friday. The Cathedral was open until midnight in order to allow the faithful an opportunity to come to the church and share in Passion Friday.