Why Good Friday?

Father Desjardins was saying a prayer and as he kissed the rosary, he opened his eyes because he sensed that he wasn’t alone. Ede was standing there, watching him. He put the rosary in the pocket of his Cossack and then beckoned her to approach him.

“I’m sorry, Father Desjardins,” she apologized. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

He smiled and waved aside her apology. “It’s all right, Ede. You didn’t disturb me. It was good to see you in church yesterday.”

“Father, why do we call it Good Friday when it’s more like a day of mourning?”

“Yes, it is a day of mourning. It is a solemn day of on which we honor the way our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for our sins. Our service recounts His painful crucifixion and some of us abstain from eating to show our sorrow. We strip our church’s altar bare and muffle the bells as a sign of mourning. The answer to your question is found in our service. Remember that after the reading of the Passion from the Gospel of John and the prayer intentions for the needs of the entire world, I processed with the crucifix down the center aisle of the church, stopping three times and to say the words: ‘Behold the wood of the cross on which is hung our salvation.’ Good Friday is good because Jesus gave His life so that those who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life. It was at the cross that our redemption was secured.”

“It reminds me of what Jesus said. That the world will rejoice while His disciples mourned but that their sorrow will turn to joy.”

“Yes. That is in John 16:20. He said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.'”

“They were sorrowful when He died on the cross.”

“Yes, but their sorrow turned to joy on Sunday, the day of His resurrection. Their tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy.”

“Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence because of His crucifixion but Easter Sunday is a day of celebration because of His resurrection.”

“Yes. Easter Sunday is the fulfillment of our faith, the coming of God’s kingdom and our new life in Christ. After 40 days of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, spiritual struggle and self-denial and dying spiritually with Christ on Good Friday tomorrow, Easter Sunday, we can rise again with Him anew.”

“I love Easter Sunday because we celebrate Jesus’ life.”

“We can rejoice and declare with our departed loved ones, the saints and the angels that Christ is risen.”

“I recently found out that Christians in the Middle East, often replace ‘Shalom’ which means, ‘“Peace be with you’ because those were the words which Judas Iscariot used to betray Jesus. So, on Good Friday they greet each other with the words, ‘the light of God be with your departed ones.’”

“The scripture where Judas greeted Jesus is found in Matthew 26:49. That’s very interesting about what why they no longer greet each other the same way in the Middle East. It reminds me of when we used to say to one another, ‘Peace be with you’ and the response was ‘and also with you.’ That response was changed to ‘And also with your spirit.'”

“I grew up saying ‘and also with you’ so, it felt strange saying something else.”

He smiled. “Yes, I was strange for me too initially but I’ve gotten used to it. The reason for this and the other changes in the Catholic liturgy is to recapture the transcendence and majesty of God.”

“Father Desjardins, thank you for explaining why we call the day of Jesus’ crucifixion Good Friday. It’s something I never quite understood until now.”

“You can look at the cross as a positive sign. It symbolizes the love of God for mankind and Jesus supreme sacrifice for us. It’s a positive sign because through his death, Christ saved mankind from bondage to sin and destroyed the hold that death has on all of us. The cross made our salvation possible, reconciliation to the Father possible and gave us victory over Satan, sin and death. If it weren’t for Good Friday, we wouldn’t have Easter Sunday. Jesus’ resurrection couldn’t be possible without His crucifixion.”

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“Yes. His death is what makes eternal life possible for those who believe in Him.”

“Yes. Jesus said in John 12:32, And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ As it says in our Catechism, the cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the ‘one mediator between God and men.'”

“‘Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven'”

“Ede, I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut short our conversation. I have a meeting with a young engaged couple and then I have to prepare my homily for tomorrow.”

“Sorry, Father Desjardins. I didn’t mean to take up so much of your time.”

“You didn’t. I shall see you and your grandmother tomorrow at Mass.”

“Yes. We will be both there.”

“The Lord be with you, Ede.”

“And also with your spirit.”

He smiled before he turned and walked away. Ede stayed there for a while longer. She pushed her hands in her pockets and felt the bag of her favorite candy with the soft centers and chewy bits. She had forgotten that she had them. She took it out of the bag and popped one into her mouth. If she had remembered, she would have offered them to Father Desjardins. There was always tomorrow.

Sources: Reader’s Digest; Ave Maria Press; Crosswalk; Learn Religions; People’s World; Vatican; Stack Exchange; Careers State University; Catholic Link

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