Tenebrae for Good Friday begins with a reflective reading of Psalm 22, which is quoted 13 times in the gospel stories of the Passion of Jesus. The psalm reveals someone in the midst of hard suffering, yet with no bitterness, no complaints of injustice, no lashing out against an enemy. It reveals Jesus in his Passion to us.
“We meet a simple abandonment into the hands of God, and in this surrender there is peace. The psalmist asks so little of God; only that God hear his cry of abandonment. (v.2) Once God induces a mystic presence so that the psalmist can whisper ‘You heard me’ (v 21) the psalm modulates into a song of Thanksgiving.
“The psalm leads us into the suffering heart of Jesus,” who does not simply reflect on his own sufferings; “he identified himself with the agony and faith of generations of persecuted, afflicted peoples.”
(Fr. Carroll Stuhlmueller, CP, Psalm 1, Wilmington, Del, USA 141-151)
In his passion, then, Jesus is aware of more than his own suffering. Our reading from the Letter to the Hebrews sees Christ as high priest of the good things that have come to be. “ (Hebrews 9, 11-28)
What are “the good things that have come to be? ” Even on Calvary we see them. Blood and water flow from his side as the soldier pierces him with a lance. Blood and water are universal signs of life. Humans need both to live.
In our final reading for Tenebrae, Saint John Chrysostom sees in them Christ fashioning his church as Eve was fashioned from Adam’s side as he slept a deep sleep. Blood and water are signs of Christ’s gift of life to us and his life-giving sacraments.
The saint says further: “As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.”
More than whips and thorns and nails, good things come about on Calvary. Jesus give us life here, life that conquers darkness and death.