|Good Friday of The Lord's Passion
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God. - Psalm 31
This is a blessed day to remember. It is the day when our salvation was won. On this day we remember what appears to be Death's Victory. Most of all this is a very personal day. Jesus died for our sins - for my sins. So, this is a day to let ourselves be overwhelmed with the meaning of the Cross. Jesus' self-giving love is for me.
I remember as a child how Good Friday seemed to be such a sad and yet engaging day. When I was very little, we didn't go to church, but spent the three hours - from noon to three - quietly praying. No play, no radio. When I was a bit older, we would go to the Tre Ore (Three Hours) liturgy at church. From noon to three, priests in the parish would talk about the Seven Last Words of Jesus from all four Passion stories in the gospels. There was familiar Good Friday music: "Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?" and "My People, what have I done to you?" I remember so vividly that, for that time on that day, it seemed that everything in our world stopped and we threw ourselves into experiencing the death of Jesus for us.
As I "fast forward" through my memory of Good Fridays I recall many times when I stood in line to go up and venerate the cross - and several "time-saving" services where we all just venerated the cross in common. My most stirring memories are from a parish where we had a huge wooden cross in the sanctuary on Good Friday. For a very long time after the formal liturgy, people came up, one by one, and venerated the cross with great devotion. Some simply knelt before it and reached up a hand and touched it, without looking up. Some knelt and bent forward to kiss the wood. Some came and stood beneath the cross and wrapped their arms around it in embrace. I will never forget one elderly woman, who I knew had suffered so many personal losses and was very ill herself. She needed help to get up the several steps to the cross. She came up to the cross and stood very close to it. She held on to it, as if for support, and then simply laid the side of her face upon it, and rested there for a brief moment with her eyes closed. In that moment, I realized that I had only begun to understand, had only begun to let this mystery touch me, had only begun to feel the gratitude in my heart for such wondrous love and mercy, had only begun to draw support from the wood of the cross on which my Savior died for me.
On this Good Friday, let's pray through the Stations of the Cross. Let us open our hearts to this great gift: that Jesus fell into the hands of a Loving God, taking upon himself all the sins of the world - all the horrors that have ever been done and will ever be done. Let us stand together at the foot of that cross, accepting and gratefully embracing this gift.
Entering into Good Friday as fully as we can will prepare the way
for our entering into the joy of Easter completely.
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