Today we observe Good Friday, the day of the death of Jesus. Many Christian Churches have different ways of observation, to prepare us for the coming resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday. Today, the sacrifices we have made during Lent culminate in our internalization of the great offering of Christ’s life. If we have been diligent in our Lenten preparations, Good Friday hits us with a power and force that brings us, literally and figuratively, to our knees with the grasp of what Jesus poured out for us. It becomes personal, a tiny sliver of the cross is buried in our heart. And so each year, we find that we give ourselves over to Christ just a little more through this time of penance and reflection.
This year, in particular, I suspect that many of us will experience Good Friday as we never have before, with a comprehension of our own mortality and perhaps even an understanding that there are so many things in this world we do not, we cannot, control. We can control our choice in relationship to those things, and to the most important choice of all, the life and death of Jesus Christ, who chose to hang on a cross and die for us. He had all control, and he made his choice for us.
For many years the practice of my faith was on auto pilot. Although I have an intellectual bent, I did not delve as deeply into the Bible, the Catechism, the history, and the teachings of my faith. When I finally did do more, pray more, read more, learn more, question more, and give more of myself, very haltingly at first, I was met with a tsunami of love and guidance from God, from Jesus, and of course, by the Spirit.
I timidly knocked on the door, and Jesus flung it open instantly, pulled me in, hugged me, sat me at his banquet table and introduced me to the feast I had shunned for years.
Of course, it isn’t always that way. Your spiritual life takes surprising turns, slows down, stops even at times, according to your senses. But your own senses are not a good guide. Sometimes when you struggle the most, feel things the least, you have a moment of self examination of your last months and you see the long path you traveled without really knowing where you were going.
Don’t do faith by feel. Don’t wait for sensation, answers, joy, hope, knowledge. All those things and so many more, they will come, but never on demand. Get on your knees and pray. Daily. Read the Bible, find a church if you haven’t already. Give alms. Do a good deed.
Feel good religion has pretty shallow moorings. Row out into the deep. When the storms come, try to remember that He who calms the storm is always in the boat with you.
The Easter Triduum, the marking of the days of Jesus’ passion and resurrection, the most important time of the church year, begins with the evening Mass of Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes on Easter Sunday evening. After preparing during the days of Lent, we celebrate these holiest of days in the Church year.
From John, Chapter 19:
Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders told him, “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar’s. Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.
At these words Pilate brought Jesus out to them again and sat down at the judgement bench on the stone paved platform. It was now about noon of the day before Passover.
And Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your King!”
“What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no King but Caesar,” the chief priests shouted back.
So they had him at last, and he was taken out of the city, carrying his cross to the place known as “The Skull,” in Hebrew, “Golgotha.” There they crucified him and two others with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. And Pilate posted a sign over him reading “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and the signboard was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, so that many people read it.
Then the chief priests said to Pilate, “Change it from ‘The King of the Jews’ to ‘He said, I am King of the Jews.’ ”
Pilate replied, “What I have written, I have written. It stays exactly as it is.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they put his garments into four piles, one for each of them. But they said, “Let’s not tear up his robe,” for it was seamless. “Lets throw dice to see who gets it.” This fulfilled the scripture that says, “They divided my clothes among them, and cast lots for my robe.” So that is what they did.
Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, Mary, his aunt, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside me, his close friend, he said to her, “He is your son.”
And to me he said, “She is your mother.” And from then on, I took her into my home.
Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the scriptures said, “I’m thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so a sponge was soaked in it and put on a hyssop branch and help up to his lips.
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished,” and bowed his head and dismissed his spirit.
Today we would like to invite you to share with us your reflections, your thoughts, your favorite readings on Good Friday. We sincerely hope that you will join in this conversation as a sharing of our common faith, an active searching, united in asking in this small way for God’s blessing upon His world this Easter Triduum. So many of us see change as something that is all or nothing. We postpone the changes we need to make in our lives to improve our relationship with God because we aren’t mentally “ready” to make that leap. In reality, our path to God is made in tiny steps, small differences, the little things that take us one step closer in faith.
We ask you to join us, help us, take that step. Together and seperately, may we aid each other through our words and prayers, to make this Good Friday an opening for the light that is Christ to penetrate our darkness.
I would also like to share a paragraph from The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In Her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that “sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings the Divine Redeemer endured.” Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torment inflicted upon Jesus, a responsiblity with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone.
Please respect the solemnity and purpose of this post and keep the comments on the Passion of our Lord.