Архієпископ Даниїл Очолив Богослужіння Великої Пʼятниці у Бенсенвил, штат Ілиной
On Good and Holy Friday (April 22, 2022), the most solemn day of the liturgical year, parishioners, relatives, and members of the community at large gathered in Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish in Bensenville, IL, for a solemn witness of the sacrifice of the Lord in order to participate in the Vespers service, at which the Holy Shroud is brought out of the sanctuary and placed in the midst of the faithful for veneration.
On this holy day, the faithful commemorated the death of Christ on the Cross and His burial, with the spiritual father of the cathedral community and the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, who was assisted by the pastor of the parish’s community Very Rev. Fr. Bohdan Kalynyuk, Very Rev. Fr. Oleksiy Kasperuk and students of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary: Subdeacons Yaroslav Bilohan and Pavlo Vysotskyi, Reader Maksym Zhuravchyk and seminarian Roman Marchyshak. The liturgical services of the day are the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins. This commemoration begins on Thursday evening with the Matins of Holy Friday and concludes with a Vespers on Friday afternoon/evening that observes the veneration of the shroud.
Great Friday and Saturday have been observed as days of deep sorrow and strict fast from Christian antiquity. Great Friday and Saturday direct our attention to the trial, crucifixion, death and burial of Christ. We are placed within the awesome mystery of the extreme humility of our suffering God. Therefore, these days are at once days of deep gloom as well as watchful expectation. The Author of life is at work transforming death into life: "Come, let us see our Life lying in the tomb, that he may give life to those that in their tombs lie dead"(Sticheron of Great Saturday Matins). Liturgically, the profound and awesome event of the death and burial of God in the flesh is marked by a particular kind of silence, i.e. by the absence of an Eucharistic celebration.
The day of Christ's death has become our true birthday. This is the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins.
Over 200 parishioners, relatives and members of the community at large gathered in Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox parish, in solemn witness of the sacrifice of the Lord in order to participate in the Vespers service, at which the Holy Shroud is brought out of the sanctuary and placed in the midst of the faithful for veneration.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel reflected in his sermon: “It is finished.”
Many said words like those that day. Pilate pushed himself up from the judgment bench and sighed, “Jesus is finished, another political troublemaker out of the way.”
The religious leaders looked at one another and said in hushed tones, “Jesus is finished. No more offense from him.”
The soldiers as they turned their backs and walked away: “Finished. It is over, our unpleasant but necessary work for the day.”
The crowds as they watched Jesus breathe his last and his head slump down, lifeless: “Finished. The spectacle is over.”
All comments on the moment, comments on the day, comments made by those with limited vision.
Not so with Jesus’ final word, tetelestai, which is Greek for “It is finished.” This is a word of cosmic import, a word of timeless importance, of universal significance. It is finished. Jesus’ last word. It’s just one word in the language of the Bible.
“It is finished” – his concluding declaration, his last word, the final punctuation on a sentence begun before the beginning. With this word of completion, finality – “finished” – we are reminded how all began in St. John’s gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. From his fullness, we have all received grace upon grace.”
And so Jesus’ word, word of Word incarnate, this one word, which we translate as “it is finished,” is the final punctuation on a sentence begun before all that is, before we were knit together in our mothers’ wombs, before the first light, first life, first spark, first dream, first bursting forth of creation.
The final punctuation on a sentence spoken in love, spoken across space, time, through ages, prophets, patriarchs, teachers, and in these last days, spoken to us by Christ Jesus.
The final punctuation on a sentence spoken, lived in love; spoken, sung, breathed, in words such as “And I, when I am lifted up, I will draw all to myself.” Words such as “Love one another as I have loved you.” Love, spoken in actions: touched and touching, taught and teaching, love reaching out, healing, embracing, lifting; calling “beloved” those called wrong, weak, small, outcast, other, sinner.
The Word incarnate spoke love in words, in deeds, spoke love in handing himself over, giving himself up, pouring himself out, until there is nothing left, nothing more needed, just one last breath, one last word. God’s sentence of love spoken across time, space, boundaries, on the cross – spoke its final syllables, in gasps, in an agonized whisper, in pain, yes, but with precision, point and power. This is no giving up, this is declaration: “It is finished.” Period.”
Vladyka Daniel concluded his remarks with another brief reflection, touching upon the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine. He brought forth an image of the broken cross of the Lord at the entrance to the city of Irpin, Ukraine – the cross of the Lord with a broken arm, simply hanging off the bar of the cross. Vladyka painfully exclaimed – He is crucified… once again… by the barbaric atrocities of the Russian aggression. He is crucified today – but tomorrow is PASCHA and through Him we shall Rise and so will the ancestral homeland Ukraine!
Lighting the memorial candle, the archbishop invited everyone to enter into the mystery of the tomb of Christ, putting our hopes and prayers at His feet, so that we can come out on Pascha morning and proclaim to the world that the Lord has Risen!