When we exchange greetings with statements such as “good morning or good evening,” we invoke the goodness of the day as a way of sending best wishes to others.
I once heard someone respond to one such greeting by asking, “what is good about the day”? Was he having a bad day or lack of peace? Be it as it may, we often evaluate how good a day is based on what we got out of it or, sometimes, based on weather conditions. We hear people say, “it’s a beautiful day today or yesterday was not a good day”! In other words, some days are good, and some other days are not.
However, out of the 365 days in a year, there is one day described as Good no matter what happens. It is the “Good Friday”! Weather conditions, mood swings, health conditions, states of the economy, etc., do not redefine or affect the goodness of Good Friday. Ironically, the events that define today’s goodness when judged from a human perspective are quite tragic: Gruesome lashes; nail-pierced hands and feet; right side punctured with a lance; head disfigured with thorns disguised as a crown to mock His kingship; the unbearable appearance of the blood-drained body; jeering crowd obliviously mocking their Christ; justice denied; innocence betrayed. These were what happened on that fateful Friday that we call “Good”. Again, from a human perspective, it ought to be given a different name, perhaps “black Friday”, “tragic Friday”, etc. So what then is Good about this Friday?
Today’s “goodness” comes from the reality that the tragic events that marked this day in which Jesus Christ our Lord was crucified were meant to be meted out to me and you. That is what we deserved—severe punishment due to sin. Instead, Christ took upon Himself our curses that we might walk away free and blessed (cf Gal 3:13).
It is not enough to know, talk or write about what Jesus did for us on the cross on this Grace-filled day. We need to find a way of entering into the blessing that comes from Christ’s passion. Prayer is the way to do so. The Letter to the Hebrews reveals a fascinating truth: “In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Heb. 5:7). The only begotten Son of God not only had to pray but had to pray with “loud cries… and reverence”! This is the only way to receive the blessings of Good Friday.
From the day Jesus died on the cross, Good Friday has remained oppressively solemn, with a somber deadness that deeply evokes an uncomfortable awareness that except for today, we are doomed. Everyone who gets to heaven did because of today. The revelation of the merciful gaze of God upon humanity came through today. Answered prayers are possible because of today. The reality of “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you and the other more stunning promise: “if you ask anything of me from the Father, He will give it to you” (Matt 7:7; John 16:32) and indeed, every promise in the Word is made possible because of today. For, “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” (Rom 8:32). So why are you asking God so little? In the gospel of Matthew (Matt 6:33), a format of asking is revealed, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will be added.” The crucified Christ is the kingdom of God. Let us be bold to ask for all of Him.
[Readings: Is 52:13-53:12; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; Jn18:1-19:42]