The chill of Good Friday
By Hugh McNichol
Good Friday always make me shiver. When I think of the interior of my Catholic parish on this day, the cold realization of Jesus' suffering and death surrounds me. The Altar is stripped, the sanctuary is bare and the Eucharistic Lord's absence in evident by the open tabernacle doors. The intense sacrifice made by Jesus on the Cross is felt keenly in a Church sans Jesus in the tabernacle.
The quietness of the sacred space echoes faint, "Hosannas", and loud shouts of, "Crucify Him."Here in the parish Church ,in the shouting silence of the empty space, We Catholics begin to feel Jesus suffering and death. That is because we participate in His death through our own initiation at Baptism. Our common Baptism unites all of us and permits us to share in Jesus' Eucharistic sacrifice.
Good Friday does not mark the end for Jesus, nor for us…rather it a sign of hopeful expectation. That expectation transcends the historical and harsh reality of Jesus' crucifixion and death. The expectation is felt in Jesus' complete submission to the will of the Father, and the subsequent Father's power that raises Jesus from the dead. Most Catholics don't usually think of death as an expectant resurrection. Most Catholics separate Jesus' total dependence on the will of the Father from His suffering and death. Most Catholics forget to recall it is the Father that raises Jesus from the dead. We are too lost to think of these aspects of redemption. Too surrounded by the cold darkness of the power of evil. Too overcome with the physical death of Jesus. We don't like to think of a Church without a Eucharistic presence, without light and joy.
However as Catholics we need to focus on not just Jesus' death, but His impending resurrection. The impending resurrection is the theological extension of Jesus' faith in the Father. He suffers the Cross, because He believes in the Father's love. We too need to recognize the same in Jesus. We share in the mystery of Jesus' death because we are faithful of resurrection. The harsh reality of death undergoes a transformation in perspective when there is a belief in the resurrection.
God's love and power transforms the cross from a symbol of shame and death, into a true realization and expectation of new life. Jesus knows this. He trusts in the Father. The Father exhibits faithfulness to His Son and raises Jesus from the cold and empty tomb. It is only after I think of the cold reality of Good Friday am I able to sense the Father's incredible warmth and power. That's what makes us believers in faith. We know that we will not be abandoned in the solitude of death, but will participate in the Paschal glory of the warmth of the Resurrection.
When I remember that the Good Friday story has another lesson to communicate, is it possible to understand that my parish Church will be transformed on Easter Sunday morning. The liturgical reenactment of Jesus' passion is the beginning of the story, not the end. As believers, we have hope in God's power. We anticipate God's resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. When we realize this, shivering stops and I am acutely aware that there is life and warmth in the Resurrection, for Jesus, for us all.
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Hugh McNichol - author, 302 6339348
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