Good Friday, April 10
The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death make no effort to paper over the reality of Jesus’ death. He did not merely “pass away” or “pass on” or “transition.” He died.
Not only did Jesus die, but he suffered death by execution in a public, humiliating, brutal, and painful manner at the hands of oppressive occupying power.
Remembering the death of Jesus has been at the heart of Christian belief and practice from the outset, beginning with the preaching of Peter to the crowds on Pentecost and continuing to this very day in the faith we profess and in the Lord’s Supper that we celebrate each Sunday.
The earliest Christians had no annual observance to commemorate the death of Jesus, but kept Sunday as the Lord’s Day, on which they gathered in his name, heard and reflected on the Scriptures together, and remembered with thankful hearts the dying and rising of Jesus as they shared the bread and cup. For them and for us too, the death of Jesus is part of a larger mystery that also includes the resurrection.
The death of Jesus is good news because it gives meaning to our own death. United with Christ in death, we are also united with him in resurrection.
The dying of Jesus is good news also because it proclaims God’s identification with the least among us and with all of suffering humanity. We remember that in the dying of Jesus, God has chosen to take the side of all who suffer at the hands of the powerful and extends to them the promise of new life.
God is on the side of the nearly 200 Salvadoran asylum seekers and refugees who were deported back to their home country only to be killed upon their return. God is on the side of people who face the death penalty today. God is on the side of all who suffer because of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, or any other form of injustice.
The death of Jesus calls us to be like him, to cast our lot with all who suffer death or injustice today, to trust that God will bring us with them and with Jesus to the fullness of life.
Prayer: We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world. Amen.
– J. Michael McMahon