“Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.”
~ Fulton J. Sheen
I hated Good Friday when I was growing up. I hated it for a number of reasons. First of all, I hated it because the service was so incredibly long. And boring. And unsanitary. Yes, to the eyes of the child that I once was, I saw Good Friday as an obligation that I would rather not meet. The service took place in a packed, non air-conditioned church. The reading of the passion was interminable. And then, we were expected to go to the front of the aisle and kiss a crucifix.
That was one of the times that I was so happy that we sat in the first row. At least I did not have to kiss the feet of Jesus after hundreds of others kissed them. That was all that I saw. Yet, there was something else stirring within me that told me I did not like the day.
As I grew older, the reason I hated Good Friday came into clearer focus: I did that to Jesus. There is something very distressing about knowing that one’s sins were the reason Jesus had to suffer and die. I would think about the sins that I had committed and wondered about how bad I caused Jesus to suffer. The inevitable truth would come to me, there is no “good” suffering. Even if I made Jesus suffer only a little, it was still agony. And, because of my sins, Jesus not only had to suffer: He had to die on the cross.
Good Friday became all too much for me to bear. However, as Bishop Fulton Sheen would remind his viewers, without Good Friday, there can be no Easter Sunday. We need to come into contact with our sinful nature in order to deal with it and become better people. In order to do that, we need to know that there is hope for us. We will celebrate that ultimate hope Saturday night and Sunday when we remember that Jesus was victorious over sin and death and that He extends that victory to us.
Today is a sad day, a somber day. Today is a day when we have to acknowledge our guilt and face the fact that Jesus had to die because of our sin. But today is also a day that reminds us that there is something waiting for us. Even St. Dismas — the “good thief” — was given that assurance as he died alongside Jesus, “This day, you will be with me in paradise.”
Our lives may be incredibly messy. We might sin more and in more ways than we could ever imagine, plan, or desire. Yet, Jesus died for us so that we might be free. Come face to face with who you are today and thank Jesus for loving you so much that He would die for you.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
FAITH ACTION: Take time during this day to thank Jesus for suffering and dying just for you.
Remember, Good Friday is a Day of Fast and Abstinence
The Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion will take place at St. Thomas More Church at 1:30 p.m. today. At 7:00 p.m. tonight, there will be a Tenebrae Prayer Service. All are welcome.