What is Good about Good Friday?
Readings: 1st: Is 52, 13- 53, 12; Ps 30; 2nd: He 4, 4-16, 5-9: Gos: Jn 18, 1-19, 42
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Today the church celebrates Good Friday. Certain expressions present lots of difficulties at times, especially when they sound ironic. As I reflect on today’s celebration, I remembered one man. If you encounter this man in the morning and greet him, “Good morning, sir!” The most probable answer you might receive from him is: “What is good about this morning?”
Like this man, most of us have asked: “What is good about this Friday? What is good about a day that someone was innocently condemned to death and crucified? A day we are not to celebrate. A day when we are to abstain from all the goods of life. A day when God was crucified, and a day when hopes were dashed.
What is good about a day that everyone expects to leave the church mournful and silent? This question also reminds me of an inscription I once saw on the body of a rickety vehicle which reads: “Do not mind what is written on me, just enter, and you will be fine!” This brings us at least a few inches close to the answer to this question.
Good Friday is the Friday within Holy Week. The first shot at the question is that without this day, perhaps, there would have been no salvation for humanity. This is because had Christ not died, there would not have been the washing away of our sins (John 16, 3; Rom 5, 8). So, it is good because it is a blessing in disguise.
On this day, Christ puts the devil to shame and defeats the power of death. Hence, Paul asks, “Death where is your sting, death where is your power?” (I Cor 15, 55). According to the Catholic Catechism, “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men” (CCC 1992).
Secondly, on this day, the barriers preventing all the saints of the church from entering the holy of holies were torn apart (Mt 27, 51). Thirdly, on this day, Christ institutes a crucial phase in the journey of our salvation. Indeed, some scholars consider this day more important than Easter Sunday. They hold this view because they feel that the Christ event of Easter Sunday would not have been possible without this day.
The term “Good Friday” and the activities surrounding it could be likened to one of the lines in the Exultet song during the Easter Vigil Mass, which describes the fall of Adam and Eve as: “Oh, what a happy fall.” So, just as the fall of Adam and Eve helped fulfill the salvific plan of God, the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday helped fulfill the salvific plan of God.
It is a day that the “drama script” written by God was “directed and acted out” by Christ his Son. On this day, by human reckoning, there appeared to be the absence of God. However, God was fully present and somewhere smiling because his son is accomplishing his mission for the salvation of humanity. Indeed, it is a Good Friday!
Peace be with you!