We call Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday the Easter triduum, the three days of the Easter feast that celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord. We remember those days through the scriptures we read and the simple signs associated with them.
Last night in our beautiful Holy Thursday celebration, we recalled the Lord kneeling before his disciples, his hands washing their feet, offering them his own body and blood in the bread and the wine. Through those signs he expressed his deep love for his own in the world then; through these same signs he expresses his love for us and all humanity now.
Today we take another symbol, a wooden cross. When Jesus carried it to Calvary after he was condemned and was nailed to it by the soldiers and hung from it outside the city, the cross was a symbol of death that struck fear and despair in those who saw it. Now it’s become a sign of hope.
It’s a sign of hope because Jesus destroyed death by his death. That’s what our faith tells us. “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.” When Jesus came into the world, he came as our savior. He assumed our humanity, he took on himself our flesh in all its weakness, especially the weakness of death. He brought life as he cured the sick, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and hope to those without hope. But his greatest gift was the promise of life he gave in his death and resurrection .
Instead of a symbol of death and despair, he made the cross a sign of love and blessing. It’s a sign of life. So we reverence this sign today, we bless ourselves with it. We hope to share in the promise it represents.
Today, Good Friday, we read from the gospel of John. Of the four gospels, John is most intent on revealing the power and the glory found in this tragic story. His gospel recalls what Jesus suffered and how he died, from the time he enters the garden, to his trial before the Jewish leaders and Pontius Pilate, to his crucifixion and death and burial. But his gospel takes that story so raw and unexplained and subtly points out the power of God in Jesus Christ. He helps us see the light that conquers darkness, the love that overcomes evil.
We call this Friday good. We don’t understand it all, but we come to join Mary, the Mother of Jesus and those who followed him. This is a day we know God is good. We remember how he loves us; we listen to his story; we reverence the cross; we take his body and blood. God hears ours prayers this day, and so with the confidence this day brings us we ask God to bless us and our world so in need of the graces poured out through the passion of Jesus Christ.
Besides the liturgical celebration, the Stations of the Cross is a a favorite devotion for today.