Good Friday — Reflection on the Passion
By Anita Monai-Brophy
In past years, I thought of Good Friday as a dreadful day. I never really liked the solemnity and couldn’t wait to be done with it to get to the happy parts of Easter, like the resurrection. Today, I realize that it was because I only saw Good Friday and the passion of our Lord, as a day of sadness, grief, silence, and suffering, without seeing the great love that was behind it.
To me the suffering of Jesus was so unbearable. I often thought, Jesus is calling me to do that? It terrified me because I knew I would never be able to handle that amount of suffering. I hated suffering and sadness in general. Also, simply the fact that I live in the first world made Jesus’ suffering and trials almost unrelatable to my life. It was impossible to see how I could experience the equivalent amount of suffering in my life, so Good Friday quickly became a day I wanted to end as soon as possible. It wasn’t until I was older that I really realized what Jesus’ passion, cross, and crucifixion were about and saw how relatable it was to my own life.
Today, Good Friday to me is not just a day of suffering, but a day of great sacrificial love. A day of Jesus’ abundant mercy upon the world.
Upon us. Upon me.
This might sound obvious and, of course, it is still a day of contrition and suffering, but I could never see the bigger picture of why the Jesus’ suffering and my own personal suffering were necessary. I couldn’t see the purpose behind it.
Now I can see that the passion, cross, and crucifixion are about God’s great humility, which shows how great His love and mercy are for us.
Satan himself, once the highest of all angels hated us for our flaws, which to be honest, I can understand. We turned away from God pretty quickly. But Jesus, in His mercy and love, our creator, humbled Himself not to an angel’s form, but to human form. He became the most vulnerable, a child in the womb. He became a carpenter’s son, someone who was not held in high esteem. He was an only child, in an era where having many children was the norm. He was born to a poor family. He was persecuted by His own people. And then He allowed Himself to willingly be scourged, tortured, and put to death. He did all of this with full knowledge that He could have stopped it at anytime, that He had the power to stop those trying to harm Him, that He could end His own suffering and that of His disciples, but He didn’t. Why didn’t He end the suffering? Because of His love. He knew that His passion and cross would redeem us, it paid the debt none of us could pay. A debt that started with Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God in the garden and has continued throughout the generations of the world. This great debt was impossible to pay, as we are sinners and so, Jesus paid the debt through His passion and crucifixion. This means that now we are free from this debt, as we can offer Jesus’ pain and suffering for the transgressions of the world. We now have something we can offer to the Lord for mercy in whatever situation, struggle, or suffering we are going through, or anyone else is going through. Essentially, the passion and cross of our Lord not only show His great love and mercy for us, His creations, but they also give us new hope and purpose in our own suffering. We can unite our little sacrifices with Jesus’ passion and offer it to God for mercy upon our world and upon ourselves.
Holy Saturday - Reflection on the Sabbath Rest
By Gabrielle Johnson
“Then they rested on the Sabbath, according to the commandments”
God is dead. And we really did kill Him. Yesterday, Jesus was walking the way of sorrows, agonizing on the cross and giving up His spirit. On Holy Saturday, Christ’s broken body lays in the tomb, in darkness and in death.
On the seventh day, God rested. He rests again in the sleep of death, and all the earth mourns. It can be easy, sometimes, to skip over this day. In our excitement for Easter, we can forget the pain, confusion and loss that the disciples of Jesus felt at His death. We can forget the sorrow of his friends, his mother.
We are always in a hurry to rush past Holy Saturday in our lives.
It’s understandable to want to get to the happy ending. Grief is uncomfortable. It’s bewildering and exhausting: a trial. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, the death of a dream, or the difficulties of daily living, we want to respond to these experiences either by ruminating and dwelling on the difficulty or by fleeing from them into the future where everything has worked out for the best. These experiences of Holy Saturday in the seasons of our lives can be any experience of grief, great or small. And whether big or little, it’s not always easy to respond well. There is something in us that wants to dwell on the cross or skip to the resurrection.
As people of faith, we know that God works all things to the good of those who love Him. We know that He makes beauty out of ashes and we can trust that He will guide us on to better things — even when redemption seems impossible. Insofar as we doubt that, we fear. We ruminate. And even if we trust, we can abstract from reality, and in anticipation hasten towards the good that’s promised, refusing to acknowledge the pain we’re enduring. We can forget the grief.
Real faith, real trust in God is, I think, somewhere in the balance. Faith is trusting the Lord has a plan, while still recognizing that this period of time is hard. Faith is resting, on Holy Saturday, in a tomb that isn’t yet empty.
God works the resurrection in His own time. In His own perfect time. Faith is trusting that the wait is fruitful, too. So, we can, in childlike trust, surrender all to God and be at rest.
We’re not just killing time. We’re abiding with Christ. In all the complexity and nuance, the mystery, longing and sorrow of human life, we abide with trust in the Lord. We know that after the crucifixion, the resurrection will come, and so we don’t need to flee the fullness of the sorrow we live with now.
That Sabbath must have felt like an eternity for the women who followed Jesus at a distance — for Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, ready to prepare the body of Jesus, who were compelled by their faith simply to rest and wait in their grief. The anticipation of healing or resolution in our own lives can seem to drag on forever, too. It can drag on for a lifetime. But we know that God is faithful.
We know the resurrection always comes.
It's faith that makes the difference. It’s faith that transforms long suffering into rest and hope.
Let today be today. Know that Easter Sunday will come, but let Holy Saturday, be Holy Saturday
Easter Sunday - Reflection on the Resurrection
By Siobahn McKenadel
This Easter Sunday we celebrate Christ’s glorious resurrection. When we split up the sections for the blog we were to choose from the Passion, Holy Saturday, and the Resurrection.
I got the resurrection.
My boss prompted, because I had no idea what to write at the time, ‘what does the resurrection means to you?’
To which I had very little to say except the typical: Christ’s defeat of death is an integral part of our faith and it points directly to the fact that we are made for eternal life, etc.
But really, especially as an adult convert who lived for years as an agnostic, the resurrection is a difficult topic.
It’s easier for me to understand why we must remember our death (memento mori), die to ourselves, love our neighbour, and try to love Christ with all our heart and all our soul. But sometimes the most significant and supernatural parts of the gospels, like the resurrection, just feel beyond understanding.
It feels separate from me.
It’s times like this where the devil attacks and says “if you can’t understand, maybe it’s nonsense,” or “your family thinks this is crazy, are you sure it’s not?”
Easter weekend, and especially the resurrection, always bring home to me the thinness of my own faith. I can certainly empathize with doubting Thomas. The struggles I have pursuing willful faith, like C.S. Lewis discusses in Mere Christianity, become woefully obvious. I look at my friends who don’t seem to have to try to believe, with frustrated wonder. It's almost as if it is second nature to them.
This realization pushes me, perhaps ironically for the supposed topic of this blog, to a deeper reflection of what dying to ourselves looks like in each of our lives. More than just the asceticism of not having sugar during lent or doing more charity work when we desire to do other things. Maybe part of me dying to myself, especially this year, is not indulging in rumination about things beyond my comprehension or the inevitable judgement from others.
But I ask myself. Why am I inspired to think about this when I am supposed to be focusing on the joy of the resurrection?
Perhaps the resurrection shows me that even though we are always seconds from death (and the rest of our eternity) and our mission is to die to ourselves to prepare for that eternal life, that we can look forward to both this life and the next. We find a joy, a peace, a serenity that we could not have elsewise, both on earth and in heaven through dying, either physically or spiritually. Our lives are renewed on earth by our choice to die to ourselves. Not only are we preparing to meet God in heaven after our physical death but that dying to ourselves isn’t just about having a miserable human life in the hopes that we’ll be with God in eternity, it’s also about the beautiful new life that we will have on this earth the further we conform ourselves to Christ.
It is hope for forever, but it’s also a little hope for now.