Reflection on Good Friday
Let us reflect on the events of the passion and how they become relevant to today and inspire us so that Easter is possible.
We meet Simon, a farmer in from the fields, perhaps to buy some supplies or to celebrate the Passover with family or friends. Simon is a bystander, a spectator when he was pressed into helping Jesus carry his cross. Was he in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or in the right place at the right time? He was no longer a spectator but a participant in the passion of Christ. His life had to change.
We have to be in the right place at the right time. We need to be in those places where the suffering is and, like Simon made a difference in Jesus’s story, we must make a difference in another’s story. We cannot be guilty bystanders to the suffering we see in our world today.
We have to make Easter possible.
Who is this Veronica? There is no mention of her in scripture, but the church in Jerusalem has made her story a tradition. Her name is appropriate: Vera meaning truth, and the last part of her name meaning image. True image. A woman who breaks through the barriers, perhaps wearing a veil over her face in grief, and then wipes the face of Jesus–and, as the story goes, Jesus leaves an imprint of his face on the veil.
Whether this event actually took place is not our concern, but the message it conveys is. What are the cloths we will use to wipe each other’s brows? What are the cloths we will use that will leave an imprint of Jesus on each other’s faces? On each other’s lives? A cloth of compassion? A cloth of forgiveness? A cloth of peace? A cloth of justice?
Only then will Easter be possible.
Jesus continues his mission even during this cruel moment of his life. He reaches out to the women of Jerusalem. He tells them not to weep for him; there are more important things to weep about.
Weep for yourselves and your children. Weep for the oppressed, the depressed, the poor, the abandoned, the disappeared. Do not let this Death Penalty happen again.
Everyone deserves a chance to be redeemed so Easter is possible.
We meet our “closet believers” Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. Both men held hostage by their fears. Nicodemus meets with Jesus in the night, at least curious as to “who is this man” and “what can he teach me.” Joseph finally gets up the courage to ask Pilate if he can remove Jesus from the cross and give him a resting place. They come out of the darkness into the light. They become Jesus’s pallbearers.
The question God is asking us today is, who will take my sons and daughters down from their crosses? The cross of addiction, of human trafficking, the cross of so many injustices, the cross of indifference. Can we be pallbearers for one another?
So Easter is possible.
And last but not least we meet several women and the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross. These are the people who remain with Jesus beyond the excitement of Palm Sunday. Those Palm Sunday moments don’t last too long. The women are faithful to the end. The mother of James and John, the winner as best supporting disciple, filling in for her sons who could not stay awake and then ran away.
Can we give meaning to our own suffering as Jesus did during his? Can we make these cruel moments in our own lives as moments for growth and ways to discover who we really are, as Jesus did? Can we say as he did, God I hand all this to You? Hold my pain compassionately in your care.