Good Friday is betrayal by a dear friend, a part of an inner circle, preparation in a long, dark night for a coming arrest, trial, public and painful humiliation, repudiation and death on a cross. "Why is it called Good Friday? It doesn’t seem very good." At some point, most Christians have had this question, or a variation of it, from friends and acquaintances who are not Christians, or even friends who are Christians. In my experience, this question is usually asked with a genuine puzzlement. My common response is to move to Easter, to interpret Good Friday immediately in terms of the Resurrection, of the good that flows from Christ’s sacrificial giving of himself in the conquering not only of sin, but of death. This is true. But let us stay with Christ in this dark night, let us open ourselves to his trust in God in the reality of his manifold sufferings, let us be there with him and share in his faith on that Friday.

Comments

Anonymous | 4/11/2009 - 9:52am
Donna, I am not a liturgist, so I cannot speak about how this language became a part of the liturgy, but I can track it down in the New Testament. A Roman centurion calls for Jesus to heal his servant in Matthew 8:5-13 (a variant of this account appears in Luke 7 also). Jesus states that he will come and heal the servant. Unlike, for instance, the account of the Canaanite woman, Jesus does not challenge or test the centurion. He agrees to come when asked. “The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed’”(Matthew 8:8). Jesus responds to the centurion’s words, which continue on to acknowledge even more completely Jesus’ authority, by praising his faith. It seems to me that the key issue here is faith, and that in the liturgy we are making this same proclamation of faith as the centurion. I have always thought that the expression of “unworthiness” is simply an expression of the reality of our failings in light of Jesus’ obedience and perfection. We say it because it is true, but we know that Jesus welcomes us and accepts us for who we are, which is why we go to receive him. Thanks for writing and I hope that someone who knows more than me on this score might respond to you also. Happy Easter!
Anonymous | 4/10/2009 - 7:48pm
Dear John, I was moved to tears by today's afternoon service that so opened my eyes to the intense suffering of our Jesus. The priest added to the passion reading by describing what happened to Jesus, from the time He entered the garden until his death, as the account of an innocent victim. It was as if the priest was reading a very detailed police report about how the victim was treated. It was very graphic, very powerful and evident of how much we are loved by God, how much God wanted to save us and give us the gift of eternal life by the sacrifice of His only Son. Following the veneration of the cross we partook in the Holy Eucharist. I, along with everyone said aloud, ''Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I will be healed.'' I have spoken these words countless times and each time feel deep in my being this plea to God to forgive me. John, I need your help to understand why we say these words. God made me. I am His precious child. I love Jesus and try to live my life as a reflection of all He taught. I seek forgiveness when my mind and heart know what I have done would not be pleasing to God and I try to end my day with words of gratitude to our Father. I know I am not perfect but I want to always be worthy of the love of God. Jesus died on that cross for our salvation. My baptism cleansed me from original sin. Why then when I attend Mass, am I still not worthy to receive Jesus? Thank you and may Easter Sunday bring you great joy. Peace be with you, Donna
Anonymous | 4/10/2009 - 4:09pm
I agree with you Michael. In thinking of Good Friday, though, I simply wanted to reflect on the pain of betrayal that Jesus must have felt.
Anonymous | 4/10/2009 - 1:55pm
The problem for Iscariot was not that he betrayed Jesus, but that he gave up hope of forgiveness and hanged himself. As long as we have hope of forgiveness, the Lord will preserve us.