April 10th Good Friday Reflection: Day 29 since churches have been closed

Today is April 10th--Good Friday 

(remember it is a day of fasting as well as abstinence from meat as a personal sacrifice on this special day)

Have you ever wondered why we call Good Friday…… “Good?”  What is so good about this day? Before answering this question let me share with you something that happens to me periodically when I go to the dying.

As you may know I often receive calls to go to someone who is dying.  One of those times I went to what was known as the Calvin Coolidge nursing home to be with someone who was very near death.  As I entered the room there was no one there except the patient herself. I prepared for the Sacrament of the Anointing….or the Last Rites as it is called for someone near death.

I began as we begin all sacraments with the sign of the cross.  The woman was only semi-conscious and laying in her bed. As I called out “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit the woman, laying there in bed, struggled to raise her right arm.  But she just could not do it. She was attempting to make the sign of the cross but just could not get her hand all the way up to do it.

I have shared similar stories at Mass before.  People, who are barely conscious, somehow try to make the sign of the cross as anointings are begun.  It is a powerful sign----it is a powerful reminder of the importance of the sign of the cross. For the cross is a sign to us of Jesus’ victory over death.  And even as she lay in that bed that day at Calvin Coolidge, this woman was giving us a sign----the sign of the cross and all it means. This dying woman can help us understand this day of Good Friday more clearly.

The cross is a sign.  The cross is a reminder to us of Jesus’ victory over death.  It had to be. It had to happen. Without his death on the cross…..we would have no future.  In that sense, it is good.

One of the most popular contemporary authors writing spiritually inspirational books right now is Max Lucado.  In his book, “In the Eye of the Storm” Lucado tells a fictional story of an angel trying to find another way for salvation to happen---another way other than the cross.  Here is a quote from his book:

“On the day Jesus died, outside of Jerusalem, the angel looked around Calvary and saw the scene.  He saw Jesus hanging on the cross. Arms spread. Head fallen forward. There was moaning. All heaven stood ready to fight.  All nature was ready to go to the rescue. All eternity was poised to protect. But God….gave no command. “It must be done…” God said.  The angel spoke, “it would be less painful.” But God interrupted softly and said, “But it would not be love.”

You see, it is what God accomplishes in Jesus this day that we call this Good Friday.  It is what makes this day good. There can be no Easter without Good Friday and there can be no Good Friday without Easter Sunday.  One cannot be without the other. That is why we call this day “good.” Today is truly a good day. Today is truly…..a Good Friday. Let us keep this good day special.

Fr. John Connors