Good Friday, the solemn day when we annually remember the suffering, humiliation and death of Jesus on a Cross, but why do Christians chose to remember such a sad and tragic day? Why not skip over to Easter and ignore Jesus’ pain as it can make some very uncomfortable to face the horror of this event.
A great question and one we need to take seriously. Why bother with Good Friday? I think the first reason is to realize the message of Jesus (i.e. the Beatitudes and a new ‘Kingdom of God’) was resoundingly rejected by the leaders of first century Judaism. But it is not the fault of the Jews (as some Christians historically have tended to blame everything on the Jews!) but everyone, as Jesus’ message and Kingdom has be consistently rejected by most throughout time (regardless of race, gender, language or ethnicity) as being too difficult, unrealistic or inconvenient. Second, we memorialize Good Friday to remember that in everyone’s life there is suffering which cannot be rationalized away and most of the time is beyond our ability to control. Jesus on the Cross does not take away our pain or provide the ultimate answer of why there is evil but it shows us a God who through love can help us overcome anything, as He did, if we ask. Finally, Good Friday calls us to remember not just the past but a present which we would often choose to ignore. It is a present not just beauty and joy but a world of many people suffering from hunger, oppression, discrimination, exploitation, fear and hatred. These are our realities whether we choose to accept them or not. Real men and women suffer loneliness, fear, hatred, discrimination and oppression; our brothers and sisters suffer as Jesus did on the Cross. Some suffering is self-induced (e.g. drug addictions) to be sure but pain is real for everyone regardless of the source. Today we remember those who suffer and perhaps ask how can we help the suffering in our family, workplace, parish and community. Can we take them down off their crosses?
Mission Doctors struggle to serve those suffering from illness please help them as they serve God. May you have a blessed Good Friday!
Brother John Kiesler, OFM