God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,
and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.
(I Corinthians 1:25)
Good Friday is one of the most solemn days in the Church year. Its uniqueness is marked by, among other things, its being the only day in the Church year where the Eucharist is not celebrated. The liturgical prayer focuses on the excruciating suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Through His death and resurrection Jesus has redeemed all humankind from sin and manifested the all- embracing love of God.
The liturgy for Good Friday concludes with the reception of Holy Communion by which we are united to the Christ who suffered for us and redeemed us.
“Each Christian has not only been crucified with Christ and crucified to the world; he has been buried with Christ too, as St. Paul tells us: We have been buried with Christ. But as though already in possession of some pledge of resurrection, Paul goes on to say: And we have risen with him” (From Commentary on John by Origen).
These words of the prophet Isaiah help us to comprehend the significance of Christ’s suffering culminating in crucifixion: “He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows familiar with grief . . . spurned and considered of no account. Yet ours were the sufferings he endured . . . Destroyed because of our sins, he was crushed for out wickedness. Through his punishment, by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53: 3-4, 5).
We are inundated with such violence in our world, such as the atrocious violence in Syria and other parts of the Middle East and the vast number of asylum seekers and refugees, the 200 young girls kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram and being abused and held hostage; mass killings taking place in France, Belgium, the Philippines and even here in the United States. These and so much else are evidence of sin in our world.
We are ever more conscious of the scourge of massive sex slavery, the hunger of millions of our brothers and sisters in our world where so much food in thrown to waste, the destructive effects of global warming, the idiocy of spending billions of dollars in developing more sophisticated nuclear weapons, all manifestation of sin in our world!
On Good Friday and in the liturgy of Good Friday we focus on the redemptive suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Let us enter into the suffering and death of Jesus realizing that our suffering, united with the suffering of Christ, is redemptive.
The passion and death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ which we mark in a focused way on Good Friday was an essential element of the Good News preached by the early Church in response to Christ’s mandate: “Go to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation” (Mark 16: 15). It is crucial to understanding the meaning and significance of the Resurrection. St. Paul said it clearly: “We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23).
The words of the prophet Isaiah are helpful in appreciating the trauma of Christ’s suffering and the meaning of the crucifixion: “Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear . . . and he shall take away the sins of many and win pardon for their offenses” (Isaiah 53: 11).
With all the violence, suffering, death and destruction which surround us in this life, we may be tempted to feel that sin and death are victorious, are winning out. But we know deep down in our hearts that Jesus, through his suffering and death has overcome sin and death.
In addressing the Father as He hung on the cross Jesus said: “Into to your hands I commend my Spirit” (Luke 23: 46). We say this with Christ, confident of God’s love for us and for the world!
Our great challenge as Christians, as missionary disciples, is to say yes with Jesus. Every moment there is a choice to be made, a choice for life.
It is for us to proclaim the Good News of God’s Love. Conscious of God’s enormous and extraordinary love for us and all people, the whole world, let us proclaim this Love by our commitment to justice, peace and mercy, and all the values of the Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus in our world, in our time. Let us be signs of hope.
God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.
(I Corinthians 1:25)