Good Friday and the Hope for Jesus' Resurrection
Notre Dame and the Anticipation of Easter
Good Friday Liturgy
Last Monday, France was in shock as they witness in disbelief the Cathedral of Notre Dame engulfed in flames! For over centuries, the Cathedral had stood strong over desecration during the French Revolution, the destruction caused by the bombing during WWII and now the great fire. Interestingly, the Cathedral, other than being one of the most visited sites in Europe with over 12-13 million visitors annually, it is also home to a great number of relics. Over the news when the Cathedral was on fire, a certain Fire Brigade Chaplain in the name of Fr. Jean-Marc Fournier, entered the Cathedral while the fire was still burning. He risked his life to save two great relics of the Cathedral, namely: the Blessed Sacrament and the crown of Thorns! The former symbolizes the “Real Presence of God” while the latter gives witness to the “Suffering Christ.” Two great symbols which could speak highly about Good Friday – the price Jesus paid to save humankind from death to life is, in the fact, the good news in “Good” Friday. The “little Easters” we commemorate each time we celebrate and receive the Eucharist “Body, blood, soul and divinity” is the path we direct ourselves to, which is the peak of the triduum.
Today, as we hear St. John’s long discourse of the Passion of Christ, we feel so bad recalling the events leading to our Savior’s crucifixion. It was as if we were seeing the Cathedral of Notre Dame burning in front of us. It was indeed a horrible, painful and cruel death for indeed it was. We recall Jesus being scourged, beaten, falling down with the cross, nailed to it and struck with a lance. But if there was one thing in the entire account that I think most painful, it would be the very moment when Jesus said these short but meaningful words: “I thirst!” Imagine Jesus, crying out these words out loud, helpless, in pain, hungry, and thirsty. He was God and yet His humanity is getting the best out of Him. His Father could have done something and yet, the plan has to be fulfilled. He has to die for us all to save us! That is the MYSTERY OF THE CROSS! The mystery that saved us all, the CROSS, which is a sign of our faith.
St. John’s account of the Passion aims to increase our faith as He returns to His Father, which is the final purpose of His mission. In this account of the passion, we find meaning in our own struggles to overcome our own sufferings by following in the footsteps of Jesus to return to God’s embrace through conversion and healing. Healing from a “death-oriented society”; healing from doubts and confusion with regards our faith; and healing from useless anxieties caused by man’s scrupulosity. And so, when Jesus said: “I thirst!” He was not simply crying for water to quench His physical thirst. His was actually an invitation to thirst for Him to be our Savior. To let go of his mortal body in order that our own bodies too may find salvation. The big question that we can therefore ask ourselves is: “If Christ conquered even death on the cross which was painful, cruel and unjust, why can’t we endure our own crosses when in so doing we are quenched of our own spiritual thirst for Christ?”
Notre Dame in Shambles
During Palm Sunday, Christians recall and mark the joyous and triumphant entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. The main message of this feast is that the acceptance of the cross is the only road to ultimate victory and happiness. It is to accept our cross, to return to God, even if it means a painful and sad death.
To this day, a number of philanthropists have already pledged to help rebuild the Cathedral of Notre Dame. C C Pecknold, however, writes in Catholic Herald: “The kind of people who could rebuild Notre Dame de Paris are also the kind of people who could rebuild civilization out of the cruciform embers and ashes of our cultural ruin. If France can recover the Faith, they can rebuild the Cathedral. But it is only by God’s grace, the relic of the Crown of Thorns, and several very great miracles, that France may return to the Faith, and the cult which truly cultivates the culture worth rebuilding.” Similar message resounds in today’s Good Friday liturgy: Unless we return to the Father in conversion and in faith following in the footsteps of Jesus in Calvary, can we only overcome our own “thirst” for God and glory in His resurrection!