Today’s Gospel should make you sick. It does not offer us Good News. It does not offer us hope. It offers only one tragic incident after another. From the betrayal in the garden to placing his stripped, beaten, bloody, and bruised body in the tomb, the Gospel reveals the total spectrum of human weakness, arrogance, self-righteousness, cowardness, and sinfulness. It should make us mourn this human condition, weep with sadness at the sight of our broken state of existence, our depravity, our inclination toward evil, deceit, and violence, and sin.
From this vantage point, we begin to see with greater clarity the amazing gift of God in the Incarnation. We see the love that God has for us that He would not want us this way forever. That while we were yet sinners He sent a savior–his own son, born in a manger to a loving home with Mary and Joseph. Jesus was a good man, who taught the way of love, of inclusivity, of mercy, and forgiveness. Jesus gave us an example by which we should live. He healed the broken, he fed the hungry, he instructed the ignorant, he spoke out against bad leadership, and bad religion. He wept at the sight of the human condition; lost sheep with no shepherd to guide them. He mourned Israel who was so far from God, and he wept at Lazarus’ tomb that this tragic human state ultimately ends in death. God is love, and Jesus loved us so much.
And we betrayed him. And we denied him. And we mocked him, and spat upon him. And we beat him, and stripped him, and humiliated him, and we yelled with all the other sinners, “crucify him!” And we crucify him still when we lie, cheat, bully, gossip, and remain silent in the face of injustice. When will we learn? When will this arrogant people drop to our knees, repent, seek forgiveness, and return to the Lord?
Today is Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, but what’s so good about Friday? This day doesn’t seem good at all! And I’ll tell you why; because we are proud. Because we like comfort. Because we are a forgetful people who need constant reminding that love demands sacrifice. And sacrifice requires discipline. And discipline and sacrifice cause suffering, and hardship, and struggle, and death. We forget that Jesus said, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain. And so we must die. But we don’t want to die, do we?
We want the rainbow but we don’t want the rain! We want a paycheck but not the work that earns it. Kids want their allowance but not the chores, and students want an A, but not the effort that it demands. We want Easter, but we don’t want Lent. We want comfort but not the cross. It’s no wonder that this Friday doesn’t seem Good to a people who want the resurrection, who want eternal life, but don’t want to die…not to ourselves, not to greed, not to arrogance, not to pride, and certainly not to our God. We want the beauty and bounty of the Lord, but we won’t bend the knee. What’s so good about Friday?
Friday is Good because it reminds us that there is value in hardship, and sacrifice, and suffering. It reminds us that God gave his very life for others and if we don’t do anything else while on this earth except give our life to others in humility and service, we can be like God.
Friday is Good because we are reminded by Jesus’ example that just because we sacrifice and serve and suffer doesn’t mean we should share our suffering with others! Even while on his way to Calvary he prayed, encouraged, and he offered hope. He forgave those killing him and even while staked to his own cross, he inspired a convicted felon by assuring him that he would be with him in paradise.
Friday is Good because despite our arrogance, and selfishness, and pride. In spite of our daily stumbling and falling and failing. In spite of our wickedness and poverty, and desire for comforts and things that cause sin, we know that we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, who has been similarly tested in every way. Our Lord knows this condition…and weeps for us too. He says on our behalf, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Friday is Good because no matter how far we’ve fallen. No matter what we’ve ever done. No matter what violence and brokenness and destruction we have caused, we can always “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
My broken brothers and sisters, Friday is Good, because God is Good. [call] God is good, [response] all the time. [call] All the time, [response] God is indeed good. Friday is Good. Repent. Approach the throne. Bend the knee. And die to yourself and with our Lord today.