We call this Friday “Good” because on this day we remember how much God loves us. On this day we “celebrate” the passion of Jesus for us. How can we possibly “celebrate” the suffering of anyone, let alone Jesus? Because Jesus suffered our suffering. The suffering and death of Jesus is God’s own entry into all that we suffer, including death itself. Jesus not only knows and understands, he is with us in our suffering and death. His passion, death and resurrection transforms ours. Today we celebrate how his suffering was that of a “servant,” for it was through what he endured that we are set free from the power of our sin, the devastation of death. “By his stripes we are healed.”
There can be an incredible intimacy in today’s reflection. As we “behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the Savior of the world,” two powerful graces are offered us. We can venerate, and thereby embrace, the whole mystery of love that that cross represents today, and enter into two gifts. 1) This is for me. It is personal. It’s about my sins - my personal independence, rebellion, choices that are selfish, failures to choose what is right and loving and heroic. 2) This is for everyone. It is universal. Today, I can stand at the foot of the cross and realize I am in solidarity with everyone else there - also loved and forgiven.
I “feel” this day is “solemn.” It’s about a past event, but it is made quite real today by my reflection upon it. It “happens” today, in the sense that I let it happen in me today. So the “seriousness” of the day is not just sadness and guilt. If that were all there is, the day would lose its power. Today I feel the deep feelings that well up inside of me when I open my heart to the death of a loved one, for me. When I open my emotions to receive the gift of his sacrifice, that I might be free from what enslaves and terrifies me, the overall feeling that grows in strength today is gratitude. Then, it feels like a very good Friday, indeed.
The gospel is so rich today. The following reflections come from “chewing” this powerful story. I pray they might further even deeper our reflection and gratitude today.
“They came looking for him with lanterns and
torches and weapons.”
“Whom are you looking for?”
“Shall I not drink the cup the Father gave
“Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said
to Peter, ‘You are not one of this man's disciples, are you?’ He said,
‘I am not.’”
"They cried out, 'Take him away, take him away!
Crucify him!' Pilate said to them, 'Shall I crucify your king?' The
chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Caesar.' Then he handed him
over to them to be crucified."
"So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross
himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew,
Golgotha. There they crucified him."
"After this, aware that everything was now
finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, 'I
"Blood and water flowed from his side."
"He died and was buried in a tomb on 'preparation
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