Tag Archives: Good Friday

Invincible Love

Christ Before Pilate, Duccio, 1308-1311

Good Friday

John 18-19

There is no greater proof that Jesus is the Son of God than his love for his enemies. In the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested, Peter’s swift reaction in cutting off the right ear of the high priest’s slave captured the all-too-human impulse toward retaliation. Jesus responded with the strength and power of God: “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” (John 18:11)

Strength and power are not ideas the world associates with suffering and torture at the hands of enemies. Mighty and fearful displays, such as when the earth swallowed up Korah, Dathan, and Abiram seem to demonstrate divine power more convincingly (Numbers 16:31-33).

The Son of God, in assuming flesh, accelerated human spiritual maturity to its zenith. Jesus answered Pilate’s questions with such calm assurance that the latter marveled. When Jesus’ accusers claimed that the Nazarene had to die “because he made himself the Son of God,” Pilate “became afraid” (John 19:7). He was a man immersed in political and earthly affairs. Talk of God or gods belonged to the mystifying realm of religion and the numinous. 

Pilate’s first question after that strange accusation was, “Where are you from?” (John 19:9) If Jesus was the Son of God, he would reveal an otherworldly origin. Roman mythology was pervasive enough to make Pilate afraid of spiritual forces beyond human control.

Jesus was silent, so Pilate attempted to assert and define his power over the mysterious defendant.

So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?”

John 19:10

If Jesus was a mere man, he would do everything possible to gain release. He would fear Pilate’s power like all the other criminals who have stood trial before him. Jesus’ answer took Pilate by surprise.

“You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

John 19:11

Pilate was stripped of power before this bloodied man wearing a crown of thorns and a purple cloak. Divine tranquility and unshakable dominion emanated from his whole being. 

Without comprehending Jesus’ words, Pilate instinctively knew he was innocent and tried to release him. But he was caught between Truth and Politics.

The mob saw they were not getting their way, so they played their trump card: Caesar. 

“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”

John 19:12

All sense of justice and right drained away at this threat to Pilate’s own position and security. He would not save Jesus at his own expense, despite his wife’s warning (Matthew 27:19). 

The whole world sought to preserve its own dominion and power by crucifying “The King of the Jews,” as the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek inscriptions on the cross mocked. Jesus, who bent low to wash the feet of his disciples the night before, poured forth invincible power and might by his mercy and forgiveness. Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, Jews and Gentiles—the world—came under his merciful wing.

Love is stronger than death, and cannot lay buried in the ground for long. On the third day, Love Incarnate rose from the grave to live and reign forever and ever.

-GMC

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Good Friday
Icon of the Crucifixion by Master Dionysii, ca. 1500. Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow.
Related post: Christ and the Bronze Serpent
©️2020 by Gloria M. Chang

Readings for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Reading I

With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. Then the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses, “Make a saraph and mount it on a pole, and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live.” Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Numbers 21:4b-9

Reading II

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:6-11

Gospel

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 

John 3:13-17

Grieving

By Orlando Hernández

To many of us Good Friday always feels like a day of mourning. We remember how our beautiful Lord was cut down in the prime of His life. Part of us feels like we lost a true friend, family . Maybe we remember those we lost. How we buried them. How we grieved and yet the world went on as if nothing had happened, business as usual. I remember when I was a kid in Caracas, Venezuela in the 1950’s. On Good Friday the whole city would shut down: government, business, entertainment. The streets seemed empty. There was a silence everywhere. Even the few TV stations and the local movie houses would only show films about the life and the Passion of Christ, which I would find very scary.

And yet today, on Good Friday, in New York, most people are unaware. They are out trying to make a living. Tonight they’ll be out in the bright city at restaurants, clubs, bars, and theaters. So different from the way I feel. This poem, by W.H. Auden (maybe you know it) expresses some of my feelings about Good Friday :

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead,
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My moon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

My soul agrees with the feelings in this poem. But it also disagrees with its message. Love does last forever. Good can come out of suffering and loss. This is a message of the Passion : The Resurrection of life and of love. But I think about those apostles in the darkness of the Upper Room!
Their guilt, their desolation, their grief, their uncertainty. I think of Peter, my friend Peter, remembering his question (my frequent prayer to the Lord): “Master, to whom will we go? Where can we go, when You have the words of Eternal Life?” And now where is that Life?

I can think of so many friends who lost their loved ones in the last few weeks, the despair they feel. And those who feel abandoned in nursing homes, jails, and hospital beds, those who feel unloved by God, who have forgotten how to believe. I am reminded of this excerpt from “The Crucified God”, by Jörgen Monltmann: “Our faith begins at the point where atheists suppose that it must be at an end. Our faith begins with the bleakness and power which is the night of the cross, abandonment, temptation and doubt about every thing that exists! Our faith must be born where it is abandoned by all tangible reality. It must be born out of nothingness.” Only God can do this. And He does.

Again, I think about these apostles in fear and disbelief, at the edge of despair. But I believe that they could not have been totally deaf! Our Lord told them more than once that He would “Rise again”. They had seen His miracles. There must have been some hope against all hope in their hearts as they cowered in that dark Upper Room. Even I, after the benefit of so many graces and instruction, at times like this, I momentarily forget that our Lord Jesus resurrected full of glory, power and love. I truly believe that when you have experienced Jesus in your life, no matter how hard your faith in Him is buffeted by adversity, hope still remains… A hope that is His gift from the cross, which is fueled by His infinite Love.

Dear Lord. By the power of Your Cross awaken in us the certainty of Your Resurrection within our dark, troubled hearts. You live, you live in us. We are not alone. Let us rejoice in your indestructible Love. Give us the confidence to share this joy with others during this Easter season.

Good Friday

Lent 1 Readings

We use the simplest signs on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter to  celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  On Holy Thursday Jesus knelt before his disciples and washed their feet–a sign he was a  servant, come to serve and not to be served. Then, he gave himself to them in bread and wine – signs of his love for us all.

On Good Friday we take another sign, the cross, a powerful sign of death, which Jesus carried to his crucifixion on Calvary. The cross struck fear into the hearts of Jesus’ disciples, but God turned it into a sign of life. After the Risen Jesus appeared to them, his disciples saw the cross in another way–as a sign of his victory over death.

Our liturgy today begins in silence, the only attitude to have before a mystery like this. “See my servant” God says through the Prophet Isaiah. “so marred was he in appearance…so shall he startle many nations and kings shall stand speechless before him…He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering accustomed to infirmity.” Yet he became our High Priest, the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us,  “able to sympathize with our weaknesses” and ” a source of salvation for all who obey him.”

The story of Jesus’ Passion from the the Gospel of John is read today. Like the other disciples, John followed Jesus from the Sea of Galilee to Jerusalem. There he stood on Calvary with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and watched him die. He recoiled before it then, but later after meeting the Lord risen from the dead, he saw signs of God’s power even in that grim story. His gospel carefully indicates the power of Jesus at work from his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, to his appearances before the Jewish leaders and Pontius Pilate, to his death on the cross. His power never fails, despite what it seems.   Jesus lays down his life on his own, no one takes it from him.

(See commentary on John’s Passion Narrative.)

Good Friday is a day of mercy, when graces flow from the wounds of Christ. We pray confidently this day when Christ became our High Priest  for the needs of our world and our own needs. We venerate the wood of the cross that bore his love to us. We take the signs of communion he gave us.

“We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

On this day we remember the Lord’s goodness and follow his steps. The Stations of the Cross are among the treasured devotions for this day.  Children can join  by  following the video  prepared from “Stations of the Cross for Children” by Lucille Perrotta Castro

Good Friday

We solemnly celebrate the death and Resurrection of our Lord on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, using the simplest of signs.

On Holy Thursday Jesus knelt before his disciples and washed their feet. At table he gave them in bread and wine his own body and blood as signs of his love for them and for all humanity.

On Good Friday we take another symbol, the cross, a powerful sign of death, which first struck fear into the hearts of Jesus’ disciples, but then as they recalled the Lord’s journey from the garden to Calvary, as they saw the empty tomb, as they were taught by the Risen Jesus himself, they began to see that God can conquer even death itself.

On this day, we read the memories of John, the Lord’s disciple, who followed him from the Sea of Galilee, to Jerusalem, its temple and its feasts, to Calvary where he stood with the women and watched the Lord die. Like the others, he recoiled before it all, but then saw signs of victory even in the garden, in the judgment hall, before Pilate, and finally in the cross itself.

On this darkest of days, Christ’s victory is proclaimed in John’s Gospel.

“ Go into my opened side,

Opened by the spear,

Go within and there abide

For my love is here” (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter, September 5, 1740).

Good Friday

We solemnly celebrate the death and Resurrection of our Lord on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, using the simplest of signs.

On Holy Thursday Jesus knelt before his disciples and washed their feet. At table he gave them in bread and wine his own body and blood as signs of his love for them and for all humanity.

On Good Friday we take another symbol, the cross, a powerful sign of death, which first struck fear into the hearts of Jesus’ disciples, but then as they recalled the Lord’s journey from the garden to Calvary, as they saw the empty tomb, as they were taught by the Risen Jesus himself, they began to see that God can conquer even death itself.

On this day, we read the memories of John, the Lord’s disciple, who followed him from the Sea of Galilee, to Jerusalem, its temple and its feasts, to Calvary where he stood with the women and watched the Lord die. Like the others, he recoiled before it all, but then saw signs of victory even in the garden, in the judgment hall, before Pilate, and finally in the cross itself.

On this darkest of days, Christ’s victory is proclaimed in John’s Gospel.

“ Go into my opened side,

Opened by the spear,

Go within and there abide

For my love is here” (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter, September 5, 1740).

Good Friday

What would we see if we were there when Jesus was crucified?

In the somber half-gloom – that darkness the gospels describe- Jesus Christ would hang from a rough cross. Not a shining cross of silver or gold, but a stark cross of rugged wood.

Our eyes would see a man dying slowly without relief, a crucified man, his body wrenched by pain. A sight not easy to look at.

What would we hear if we were there when Jesus was crucified?

The harsh thud of nails driven through wood and flesh, the moaning of the dying, the periodic insults shouted to the cross, the mockery of his enemies to his claim of divine sonship, the few gasping words of Jesus himself. Sounds not pleasant to the human ear.

Only faith tells us there is something more about the crucifixion of Jesus. In that unlikely place, in pain and sorrow, God showed love for a sinful world.

May our vision of faith grow till we value life in the light of our faith in the Son of God “who loved us and gave himself up for us.”

Lord Jesus,
Redeemer of all,
hear my prayer.

For the love you bear
to those who ask forgiveness,
look mercifully on me,
as once you looked on Mary Magdalene
and on Peter who denied you.

Look on me, Lord Jesus Christ,
as you looked on the thief on his cross
and on every sinner
whom you have ever forgiven.

Look on me, merciful Lord,
as you looked on your mother, Mary,
standing in sorrow beneath your cross.
Let me feel in my heart her compassion for you,
and let my eyes weep for the sorrows
my sins have caused.

Call me from darkness
to my Father’s house,
give me a new heart
and a place at your side
at the banquet of your kingdom.
Amen.