It seems as though it was just yesterday that we celebrated the joyful, hopeful Feast of Christmas. Our churches decked out in all of their holiday finery, the carols, the crib, and the happy, merry greetings. And now it's all so different. The wood of the crib has become the wood of the cross. The joyful young mother has become Our Lady of Sorrows. The Gospel speaks not of peace and new life but of evil, of pain, of betrayal, of despair. The infant of yesterday cries out: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
After all of the hopes, all of the promises - it's over - He who encouraged, healed and saved so many, is nailed to a cross - murdered by public demand. It's over - all over.
And what of us? Is this the day that we relive the funeral - remembering sadly what might have been? Are we left to reflect upon the record of those three short years of ministry and of example? Three short years that changed, not so much the face of the earth, as the hearts and souls of its inhabitants. Is this the end of the Christian experience cycle: birth - life - death?
NO? You and I know that it doesn't begin with Christmas bells and end in the cold, stony silence of Good Friday. We know because we have seen beyond that heavy curtain. WE have seen the dawn of Easter. And so, WHY don't we wipe forever from our collective memories the gross indecency of Calvary? And leap, as it were, from the hopeful joy of Christmas to the triumph of Easter? Because that is not the way it is, we can't do that. The reality is that, without the Friday of death, there can be no Sunday of life. Not only for Jesus, but for us as well. The very nature of the real world demands that we confront evil, and the priceless message of Good Friday is that, because of Christ's ultimate triumph, we can be sure that, if we remain united to Him in word and action, we will emerge from that confrontation with evil...victorious, triumphant, free, whole, redeemed, one with goodness and with truth.
No matter how deep the pits we fall or are pushed into - no matter how long or how dark the tunnels - in and through Him - we shall overcome. He went willingly to the cross because He knew that, in the course of life, you and I would face evil, face pain, face despair and finally, death. He knew that you and I would freeze before the spectre of terminal illness, old age, loneliness, terrorism, natural disasters, the suffering of children, brutality in all of its forms - these are all part of life. They are mysteriously wrapped up in the very essence of power, in the temporal evolution of creation, and in the nature of free will. That evil exists, we know full well. Why it exists, we don't know, all we have our theories. But we do know that, because of Jesus' personal encounter and ultimate victory, no manifestation of evil can be said to be final. And so, that is why this is Good Friday.