Skip to content

Reflections on Good Friday: We Preach Christ and Him Crucified

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
4/7/2012 (5 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The crucifixion is an historical fact. The crucifixion is at the heart of true faith

The crucifixion and death of Jesus are historical events.  They happened.  Good Friday recalls this historical truth.  We have the witness of all the Gospels, the witness of the early Church, the absence of any relic of Christ's body.  From the beginning, Christians, among them the Apostle Paul, "preached Jesus Christ, and him crucified."  (1 Cor. 2:2)

We adore you Oh Christ and we Bless you because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

We adore you Oh Christ and we Bless you because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
4/7/2012 (5 years ago)

Published in Lent / Easter

Keywords: cross, crucifixion, Islam, Muslims, suffering, passion, Andrew M. Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - On Good Friday, Christians the world over observe the holiday commemorating the passion, crucifixion, and death of Jesus, the Christ.  It is the first, the longest, the most grim, the starkest of the Triduum, the "Three Days" of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.  In fact, in some countries, it is called Black Friday or Long Friday.  On this day, we confront the truth that the impassible God suffered, that the ever-living God died.  We confront the dark fact that He did so for our sins.

A suffering, dying God is something possible only because the Son of God in the Incarnation assumed human nature, a nature which we very much know--unlike that of God--can suffer, and can die.  The dead corpus of Jesus on the crucifix remained hypostatically united to the Son of God and therefore to the Godhead.  Death did not sever this indissoluble link. 

For three days, therefore, we learn that we can worship the living God through the dead body of the Lord Jesus while his soul was harrowing Hell.  In the crucifixion, we worship the living God through his human body which is dead.  This is "Christ crucified," the scandalous Christ, a stumbling block to some, and foolishness to others.  (1 Cor. 1:23) 

The good and well-meaning Roman centurion who exclaimed upon Jesus' death, "Surely this was the Son of God" got his theology wrong.  He should have said, "Surely this is the Son of God," for the body hanging lifeless on the cross still remained united to the Son of God who was very much alive.

In the storehouse of the Church's hymns, among the most haunting, the most beautiful are those that pertain to this day. 

O Crux ave, spes unica,
Hoc Passionis tempore!
Piis adauge gratiam,
Reisque dele crimina.

O hail the Cross our only hope
In this passiontide!
Grant increase of grace to believers
And remove the sins of the guilty.

In the hymn Crux Fidelis, we sing the words:

Pange, lingua, gloriosi proelium certaminis
Et super crucis trophaeo dic triumphum nobilem,
Qualiter redemptor orbis immolatus vicerit.

Sing, my tongue, the Savior's glory; tell His triumph far and wide;
Tell aloud the famous story of His body crucified;
How upon the cross a victim, vanquishing in death, He died.

The crucifixion and death of Jesus are historical events.  They happened.  Good Friday recalls this historical truth.  We have the witness of all the Gospels, the witness of the early Church, the absence of any relic of Christ's body.  From the beginning, Christians--among them the Apostle Paul--preached "Jesus Christ, and him crucified."  (1 Cor. 2:2)  This Jesus, St. Paul tells the Philippians, was obedient "unto death, even death on a cross."  (Phil. 2:8)  This Jesus, St. Peter tells his people, we through our sins "killed, using lawless men to crucify him," to the boon of all mankind.  (Acts 2:23)  O Felix Culpa!  O Happy Fault!

The crucifixion and death is testified to even by early Jewish and Pagan historians, as in the so-called Testimonium Flavanium, where the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus in his Antiquities states in passing that Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death on the cross.  The 2nd century satirist Lucian of Samosata in his Passing of Peregrinus ridicules Christians for worshiping "the crucified sage" or "crucified sophist."  This satire is seen in particularly striking form in the 1st century Alexamenos graffito (also known as the graffito blasfemo), which shows Jesus as a donkey crucified on the cross and contains the words in Greek, "Alexander worships God." 

Thus the crucifixion is vouched for by unbelieving Jewish historians for whom it is a stumbling block, and even in an oblique or blasphemous way by Greek satirists and Roman schoolboys for whom it is foolishness. 

It is part of our ritual on Good Friday to venerate the Holy Cross in a particularly striking and memorable way.  This devotion to the Holy Cross is carried through the entire year in our devotions, in our Stations of the Cross, where we worship Christ and bless him, for by his Holy Cross he redeemed the world. 

The "Prayer Before a Crucifix" is a popular and richly-indulgenced prayer.

Behold, O good and sweetest Jesus,
I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight,
and with the most fervent desire of my soul
I pray and beseech Thee
to impress upon my heart
lively sentiments of faith,
hope and charity,
with true repentance for my sins
and a most firm desire of amendment.
Whilst with deep affection and grief of soul
I consider within myself
and mentally contemplate
Thy five most precious wounds,
having before mine eyes that which David,
the prophet, long ago spoke concerning Thee,
"They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones."

In the Litany of the Holy Cross, we identify the instrument of the crucifixion and death of Christ--the Cross--as something heralded by the prophets, preached by the apostles, as the instrument which caused the salvation of the world. 

But--alas--not all the world, and not all who claimed to be a prophet or apostle of the most high God preached the Cross.  Tragically, there are more than one billion Muslims who, following the lead of the self-acclaimed prophet Muhammad, deny the crucifixion and deny the redemptive death of Jesus.  This is a cause for great sadness.

Why do Muslims reject the crucifixion and death of Jesus whom they acknowledge as prophet?  Because of historical reasons?  No.  On the witness of one man, Muhammad, a man who did not know Christ.

The Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, unambiguously denies the historical crucifixion and death of Jesus.  In Surah an-Nisa 4:157 we read with respect to Jesus: "And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him," ma qataluhu wama salabuhu.  Instead, the Qur'an continues, it was only made to appear so, wa laakin shubbiha lahum

Through sheer faith, against all historical evidence, Muslims are irrationally bound, by the word of their alleged prophet, to deny history, to deny the Cross, and to deny God's chosen instrument of their redemption.  This is a tragedy of the first proportion. 

The Jesus of the Qur'an is not "Jesus crucified."  The Jesus of the Qur'an is a paper Jesus.  The Jesus of the Qur'an is in fact not the real Jesus at all.

St. Augustine had cause to address the issue of those who denied the reality of the crucifixion.  Although Muhammad was not yet born when St. Augustine preached his words, the heretical Docetists--from whom perhaps directly or indirectly Muhammad obtained his false ideas--denied the crucifixion and death of Christ.  To the Docetists--the name comes from the Greek dokeo "to seem"--Christ did not suffer and die on the Cross, he just seemed to do so.

To deny the crucifixion was, in St. Augustine's eyes, vanity or futility.

"It would indeed be vanity," St. Augustine tells his flock in one of his sermons, "if we were to say that Christ had not really undergone death but only pretended to, that those wounds of his were phantom wounds, that it was not genuine but faked blood that flowed from the wounds, that he later showed his disciples unreal scars after unreal wounds." 

Those who deny the reality of the crucifixion, whether in ordinary history or its deeper significant in sacred history, "are frogs croaking in a muddy marsh," says St. Augustine.  They can make a noise with their voices; they cannot instill the teaching of wisdom."  They cannot instill the teaching of wisdom because they deny the truth "which is the Word made flesh and dwelling among us; the truth, Christ born of God, the One from One, only-begotten and co-eternal; the truth, who took the form of a servant and was born of the virgin Mary, suffered, was crucified, rose, ascended; all the time, truth." 

We, of course, do not know what went through the mind of Muhammad when, in the name of Allah, he rejected the passion, crucifixion, and death of his Redeemer, a Redeemer he denied with the ranine words of the Qur'an which so offend against history and so offend against God. 

What we do know is that Muhammad led, and continues to lead even after his death, billions of our human brothers and sisters astray, away from the Jesus on the Cross who suffered, died, and rose again for their sins, the sins of the sons of Ishmael, as well as the sins of the sons of Isaac, and indeed the sins of all mankind.

In the declaration Nostra aetate, the Second Vatican Council stated that the "plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims."  This is a truism: God wills the salvation of all mankind, including the Muslims.  What Nostra aetate does not say about the followers of Muhammad, but what is certainly true, is that the plan of salvation for them is not Muhammad, but, like all the rest of mankind, "Jesus Christ, and him crucified." 

On Good Friday, before the crucifix, let us say a prayer for the conversion of our Muslim brothers and sisters, that they may embrace the Cross, as the Jesus on the cross seeks to embrace them.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'


Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for MAY 2017
Christians in Africa.
That Christians in Africa, in imitation of the Merciful Jesus, may give prophetic witness to reconciliation, justice, and peace.


Comments



More Lent & Easter


'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'

Luke 24:46

Lent Event

Importance

Ash Wednesday

March 1, 2017

Image of Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting... continue reading

Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Image of Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels... continue reading

Holy Week

April 9 - 15, 2017

Image of Holy Week On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by... continue reading

Holy Thursday

April 13, 2017

Image of Holy Thursday Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover... continue reading

Good Friday

April 14, 2017

Image of Good Friday On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week... continue reading

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Image of Easter Sunday Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I calls it the greatest feast, and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter... continue reading

Stations of the Cross

Every Friday

Image of Stations of the Cross Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion... continue reading

Fasting and Abstinence

Every Friday

Image of Fasting and Abstinence For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the... continue reading

Image of What did you give up for Lent? From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year... continue reading

Ascension of Our Lord

Thursday May 25, 2017

Image of Ascension of Our Lord The Ascension of Our Lord, a Holy Day of Obligation, celebrates the day that Christ, in the presence of His apostles, ascended bodily into Heaven. The Ascension occurred on the 40th day of Easter, a Thursday... continue reading

Pentecost

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Image of Pentecost Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and Corinthians (16:8)... continue reading

Image of Lent FAQ's Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple... continue reading

Mardi Gras

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Image of Mardi Gras In France, the people feasted on foods that would be given up during the forty days of Lent. Meats, eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving the holiday its French title of 'Mardi Gras' which means Fat Tuesday... continue reading

Image of Transformed by Easter The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ, a faith believed and lived as the central truth by the first Christian community... continue reading

Image of Appearances He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. - Matthew 28:6. Learn more about the Post-Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Christ... continue reading

Image of Easter Gifts CatholicShopping.com offers a variety of Easter gifts & Easter treats for all ages! Choose a gift for someone special and celebrate the joy of Easter... continue reading

Easter / Lent News

Inspire: Easter Beyond the Octave. Why Do We Celebrate for Fifty Days?

Image of Christ my hope is risen, and he goes before you into Galilee.

While Easter is a Solemnity and an octave feast, it is also a 50 day season until Pentecost.The Season of Easter is not just about His ... continue reading


Reflecting on the Resurrection: Why did Jesus Rise with Wounds?

Image of The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths point to us that Jesus is physically alive.  His crucified body has been transformed.  What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?

What lesson is the Lord teaching us by keeping his wounds intact? Perhaps we can better answer this question by turning to our own wounds. ... continue reading


I Am Dismas and This Is My Story

Image of

As a teenager I ran into someone who introduced me to the finer points of the occupation. We fell into the tried and proven method of ... continue reading


HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence Watch

Image of The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep.

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence ... continue reading


On the Friday We Call Good, the Whole World Stands Still Watch

Image of

Today as we contemplate the Passion we also plumb the mystery and meaning of the Church. We are members of His Body. She was born ... continue reading


The Lent and Easter Season... by CatholicOnline.shopping

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.