A Misnamed Day?
“Why is Good Friday called good?” This was the final question at my First Communion interview. I don’t even think I guessed the answer because I really had no idea. Why would the day Jesus died be called good?
Our pastor cleared it up for my eight year old self and he gave me an explanation I have never forgotten. He told me Good Friday was good because it was the day our Salvation was won for us! Jesus’ suffering and death was tragic but it was through this tragedy that Heaven was opened to the fallen human race.
What Happened on Good Friday
Good Friday is the day Christians celebrate the day God died – the day Jesus, the Son of God, gave his life to set us free. It is a somber day of fasting and penance. It is a special day to remember the great love God has for us:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Love is the Cross of Christ. It is from this gloomy day that Christianity embraces its center. “We glory in the Cross of Christ” because it is a gift. The best gift one can give is the gift of themselves and that is what Jesus did. He gave us himself. One of my favorite sayings perfectly encapsulates the meaning in Good Friday:
“He came to pay a debt He didn’t owe, because we owe a debt we cannot pay.”
On Good Friday, one of the main aspects of the service is the Elevation and Veneration of the Cross. Through this simple gesture, the perfect symbol of our salvation is held up and we then have the opportunity to kneel and behold, venerate, touch, and kiss our beloved Lord. It is a small way to offer him our love and show our devotion and thanksgiving.
A Call to Action
When Jesus said to “love one another as I loved you,” he didn’t mean love would be easy. Love takes us to the Cross. It means giving of ourselves as completely as God gave himself to us.
Lent, as a friend of mine so nicely put it, is a reminder that we cannot do anything without God. Good Friday is the culmination of this. It shows us how weak we are – that we fell through Adam and Eve and could not repay our debt; we could not heal the wound. Jesus came to heal the wound we created but could not fix and to pay the debt we owe but cannot pay.
Despite our weaknesses and unworthiness, Jesus came out of his great love to show us what it means to live, and to love. On this day, Jesus was abandoned by all who knew him. This good Friday, let us unite ourselves to Jesus and not abandon him in his final hours.
Dark Before Dawn
There is a darkness about Good Friday that helps us appreciate the wonder and awe and wonder of Easter Sunday all the more. Richard Neuhaus put it wonderfully when we drew on Joseph Conrad’s book “Heart of Darkness.” He said that Jesus journeys into the heart of darkness so that none of us has to go into the heart of darkness alone. There is no life without death, there is no resurrection without the cross, and there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday first.
This Good Friday, let us stay with Jesus at the foot of his Cross. If we unite with him in his passion, we will more fully experience the glory that awaits us on Easter Sunday.
“No pain, no palm; no thorns no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross no crown.” William Penn