Today’s reading is Mark 15:33-41:
At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Why on earth do we call this Friday “Good”? It’s a day where the Gospel of Mark paints a picture of a day filled with sin, evil, doubt, suffering, pain, hate, lies, vengeance and darkness. And we call that a good day? This is one of those paradoxes of the Catholic faith, where the painful things I just described are certainly true, but that’s not the whole story, and it doesn’t end there. The reason we call this day good is because sin, evil, doubt, despair, hate and darkness never have the last word – God always has the last word. What will be the last word of God? Well, this weekend it will be a word of virtue, goodness, faith, hope, love, joy , happiness, peace and truth. It will be a word not of death, but a word of Resurrection and new life.
Good Friday reminds us that there is no Resurrection without first the Cross, there is no new life without first a kind of death, there is no redemption without first some suffering. This was true not only in the earthly life of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, but it’s also true for us, His disciples. We have those days and experiences in life where it sure feels like Good Friday. We may have been hurt by another person, we may have experienced the loss of a loved one, we may feel lonely, we might be struggling with a sin, we may be struggling in our faith, or maybe we see a loved making the wrong life choices and we feel that there’s nothing we can do to help. Whatever our Good Friday moments may be, it doesn’t have to be the last word. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shows us that God always has the last word, and the Passion, death, and eventual Resurrection of Jesus shows us that there is no Resurrection without first the Cross just as there’s no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. The Cross is indeed the very instrument of our salvation. We have a God who walks with us in any pain or suffering that comes our way. We have a God who suffers with us and who also leads us to Resurrection and the new life of spring. In our human perspective we feel that a day like this can’t be good, but with the lens of our Christian faith we see that the badness of Good Friday is what won for the greatness of Easter Sunday. We will see this Easter weekend that God always has the last word, and it’s a good word of Resurrection.
Fr. Mark Murphy is the Undergraduate Chaplain of the Harvard Catholic Center.