ISA. 52: 13-53:12; HEB. 4:14-16; 5:7-9; JOHN 18:1-19:42.
Lent began with Ash Wednesday, initiating this period of reflection, fasting, and alms-giving. During the liturgy on Ash Wednesday, we receive ashes with a reminder that our life is fleeting and we need to convert to the Gospel. We are given an abstract reminder that we all will someday die; the world will keep spinning when we are gone (for those who may think the world revolves around him/her). Abstraction, an uncomfortable thought, but one that is necessary.
Today, Good Friday, we are moving beyond abstract reflections about death to seeing its shockingly gruesome details. The Gospel of John recounts the arrest, trial, torture, and death of Jesus. Death is not an abstraction but messy, humiliating, and de-humanizing us of dignity. In John’s account of the Passion, we see the hideous face of death in the treatment of Jesus, an innocent who suffers.
What makes this story so shocking is not just the nature of death but the fact the Jesus, as divine, chose to undergo such treatment freely in order to show his obedience to the Father, love for us, and fidelity to the power of the Kingdom. Jesus showed us that the power of His words and love overcame death. On Easter (not to jump the gun) the power of death was destroyed, though not, of course, it hideousness to us when it appears.
So, what does this tell us? Today is a day to reflect on the love of Christ who suffered to show His love for us. Not just ‘us’ as a nameless mass of humanity but as individuals. Christ’s love is for YOU regardless of your life situation, sinfulness, weaknesses, and limitation. Perhaps we can reflect and give thanks for God’s love and ask for help as we bear life’s many crosses.
Mission Doctors help those carrying the cross of sickness and disease so please remember them in prayer and through financial support.
Blessed Good Friday!
Brother John Kiesler, OFM