OXYMORON – HARDLY
Ever wonder why this day is called “Good” Friday when it recalls the most violent and hideous of tortures brought to bear on Jesus? Perhaps it takes its title from the fact that only God can make something truly good come from something truly awful. Awful this day was in the life of Jesus. Mocked, beaten, tortured, reviled, abandoned, betrayed, nailed to a cross, speared, hung until he could no longer breathe or speak – that was the price demanded to effect the good result of our salvation. That was what was needed to save humankind from itself. That was what was meant when it was said “no greater love anyone hath but to lay down his life for a friend.” There is no Mass today. There is nothing to celebrate, only things to recall. The bishop does not wear his ring today because the Church to which he is wed by his episcopal ordination is without its leader, its center. Catholics gather around the world to walk the Way of the Cross, to participate in the Good Friday Liturgy: a liturgy of the Word which includes the passion according to St. John with intercessory prayers, the veneration of the cross by all the faithful, and the distribution of Holy Communion consecrated the previous evening for use today. In silence, with austerity, we recall those momentous events in the final hours of Jesus. There is little need for music, except that which draws our attention to the fulfillment of centuries of prophecy and to the cross itself. The Church does not wish for us to go two days without the strength we normally draw from communion so the body of Christ is shared without the precious blood which was spilt. Isn’t “Good Friday” with all its recalls an oxymoron – hardly. God made it good by what he asked of his Son and what we learn tomorrow night at the Easter Vigil. If you wish to read the homily which I delivered at the Good Friday Liturgy this afternoon at St. Jude’s Cathedral, click here.
With this act, the Scriptures fall silent. The deed is done. Now we wait.