Good Friday

Last year Good Friday began a difficult weekend. It’s hard to be an “extra parochial” priest on Easter weekend.  Perhaps almost as hard, emotionally, as it is to be “parochial.”  I am grateful for the friends who shared this weekend with us last year. Their presence helped.

This morning, as I went for my jog, I remembered what Good Friday feels like for those who have been keeping Lent and Holy Week and who plan to keep the Triduum. It feels a lot like the day of the funeral for someone beloved. There is a lot to do, a schedule perhaps: Time has to be watched. But in a larger sense, it seems like a day “out of time.”  Our lives feel stopped, and time should stop too.  Or we simply wish it would because once the day runs its course, we will be left with the awfulness of the loss, the absence, the unwanted change of so much. If only the world would stand stil…

But the world does not stand still. It can be a little hurtful to see that.  As we go from funeral home to church to cemetery, the rest of the world goes to work, keeps appointments, open and closes stores and does business as usual.  There was a time when at least the traffic stopped for funeral processions. Not so much anymore. As hurrying drivers cut in on the procession of mourners, we are reminded that the  loss of one life, the end of our world, doesn’t matter to the rest of the world.  It is a lonely feeling.

We remember that loneliness on Good Friday, because in our world, very little stops on anymore. The world goes to work, keeps appointments and does business as usual. For those of us who have been keeping Lent and Holy Week and who plan to keep the Triduum, Good Friday can leave us feeling lonely. While we remember and relive the loss of one life —  an extraordinary life – gruesomely ended by a conspiracy of power, lies, fear and apathy, the world’s business goes on, as if nothing were happening.

For those of us who can bear to keep it, Good Friday can be saving.  Our dwelling in the story of Jesus’ death  is a way to reaffirm the Talmud’s insight that the loss of one life is, in God’s eyes,  the loss of the world. God help us if Good Friday means that only certain special lives matter. It must mean that every life matters that much — whether it is the life of Jesus, or the life of one of the thousands who died in the “Arab spring,” or one of the millions who have died of hunger and malnutrition, or one of the thousands who have died in war zones, or because they were homeless, or mentally ill, or because they were said to be guilty of certain crimes (as Jesus was.)  Good Friday is a day of grief which we must continue to keep precisely because the dying continues – the conspiracies of power, lies, fear and apathy continue —  and the world continues to go about its business, as though nothing were happening.

By keeping Good Friday, by stopping and stepping outside of time and the usual busy-ness to notice the dying, to  grieve, and to protest the conspiracies, the lies, the fear and the apathy, we open ourselves to the saving that Easter can bring.

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