April 7, 2023
by Edward Morse
Creighton University School of Law
click here for photo and information about the writer

Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
Lectionary: 40

Isaiah 52:13—53:12
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1—19:42

Praying Lent

Preparing for Good Friday

The Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter -25 min. - Text Transcript

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Good Friday readings bring us to the pinnacle of the holy days in the Christian calendar.  While we have heard the story of the passion of our Lord many times, it can still impact us in new ways, opening new insights for us to contemplate in our journey of faith.

Isaiah’s prophesy of the suffering servant maps so perfectly with today’s Gospel.  Isaiah connects us with the unjust treatment of the sinless servant of God.  Who would recognize one as highly exalted whose image was “marred beyond human semblance” so much that it would “startle many nations” and cause kings to “stand speechless”.  We recall our earlier Lenten readings from the prophet Samuel’s choosing of David to be king, which were based on not on external appearances but on internal qualities known only to God.

Today’s psalm likewise meditates on our Lord’s passion, focusing on the abandonment of the one unjustly accused.  Being a “laughingstock to my neighbors, a dread to my friends”, one “forgotten like the unremembered dead”, the victim of injustice knows the sting of betrayal and critical assessments made in ignorance.  Earthly systems filled with injustice regularly dispense false judgments, but in Heaven their fraud and illusions are exposed to the light of truth. 

The passage in Hebrews makes it clear that our Lord is the true high priest, who suffered even more than we could suffer, becoming the source of salvation for all.  He can sympathize with the weakness of those who do not bear up even under the modest tests we face in this life.  Our Lord calls us to follow him in his victory, trusting Him in faith, leading us to the mercy we need.

Today’s gospel takes us through events in our Lord’s passion that verify Isaiah’s prophesy.  Our Lord leads his disciples throughout his earthly ministry, but here he journeys alone.  We are not able to follow our Lord everywhere he must go, for he must go to prepare a place for us where we can then follow after him.   

There are many subplots to explore, but I am wrenched inside by the suffering of Peter, who wanted so much to be more than he turned out to be.  Many of us feel this sting of disappointment with ourselves when weakness overcomes us.  Knowing that we also disappointed our Lord who loves us by not following him multiplies this internal wound.  Our failings remind us we are not the Lord, but only a fellow creature with whom He can sympathize in our weaknesses.

Peter was a passionate man, who rose to the challenge when the soldiers came in the garden. John’s gospel reports that Peter struck Malchus with a sword, cutting off his ear.  Luke’s gospel alone records Jesus reaching out and healing Malchus, saying that there was enough violence.   Luke, a physician, could be expected to bring out this healing miracle, but even John records a miracle where the soldiers fall to the ground in response to Jesus’ words, “I AM”.  One wonders if Peter even felt inadequate after this event.  Sometimes the Lord needs to correct even our best efforts to serve him, which sometimes go awry. 

As we reflect upon the passion of our Lord, his unjust suffering, and the miraculous roots of our salvation, let us come to realize the miracle of faith and the magnificent mercy extended toward us.  The gospels are full of miracles, ranging from healings to exorcisms to resurrection events.  Many encountered miracles, but few came to follow Jesus.  Many in the crowd who cried out to murder our Lord had undoubtedly known of his miracles.  Seeing is not always believing.  Somehow, the faithful witness of a few ended up transmitting faith that endures through generations, reaching even unto us.

In our times when faith seems to be in short supply, let us simply turn your hearts to the Lord and thank him for choosing us to be His vessels to carry this most precious gift, even to the end of the age when our Lord returns again.  Thanks be to God

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