Friday of the Passion of the Lord (Good Friday)
The Friday we call “Good” was not a bank holiday in Jerusalem. It was the time of the great religious feast, more busy than “business as usual.” People were doing what people normally do at such festive times, a time of bustle and excitement.
And through the crowded streets walked yet another condemned criminal, another sign of the Roman power over life and death. This criminal had been condemned, utterly rejected, by the religious leadership as well. Walking through the crowds, He was quite alone, really: though He had entered the city with His band of disciples, none of them were to be seen now. His Mother was there, some faithful women.
This unremarkable man was the Son of God, and the Son of Man as well, all the heart and soul of both God and man meeting in this one body, carrying all the weight of the sins of the world, bearing it all in His Body and mind. All that ever was, all that ever would be that could separate us from the love of God for us was borne by Him. Patient, gentle, always kind.
The world will go about its business this Good Friday. And we, who gather at the foot of His Cross, adore that love which wants the world to be saved – to come to Him and live. His Cross is the only stable point in the endlessly spinning, endlessly busy world, the only place of God’s control in a world out of control. The only commitment of God to man and man to God, from which all other true love in this world can grow. Come, let us adore Him.
Grace: To have sorrow, compassion, and shame because the Lord is undergoing His passion for my sins.
Text for Prayer: Jn. 18:12-40
Reflection: What do we hope will vindicate us? When all is said and done, what do we wish to be the justification for our thoughts, words, deeds, and omissions? One often hears people use phrases like “we will be vindicated by history,” meaning that hindsight will show either that they did the pragmatic (though not always honest) thing, or that their behavior will be vindicated by opinions fashionable at some future point. Jesus encounters these ways of thinking and others at His trial, but refuses to be vindicated by anyone or anything beyond Himself.
First, we see Jesus go before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Before Jesus is even arrested, Caiaphas advocates His death by stating that “it is better for one man to die for the people, than for the whole nation to be destroyed” (Jn. 11:50). Caiaphas’ primary preoccupation is not whether Jesus’ claim is true or not, but whether Israel will be destroyed. In the second part of Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict observes that
there were certain circles within the Sanhedrin that would have favored the liberation of Israel through political and military means. But the way in which Jesus presented His claim seemed to them clearly unsuited to the effective advancement of their cause.