This Good Friday, put yourself in the shoes of the disciples
A Reflection for Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
“Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted” (Is 53:4).
About 1,990 years ago, God died.
Obviously, there is some nuance missing from this statement. But even so, we can say that Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity—that is, God—died, nailed unceremoniously upon a cross.
This painful and bewildering truth gets obscured by the sanitized depictions of Good Friday that surround us. For one thing, the crucifixes that hang in our churches and houses often underplay the extent of Christ’s suffering. All four evangelists recount how Roman soldiers flogged Jesus, their whips fastened with broken glass and nails to inflict maximum torture. But the Jesus we see hanging above the altar looks hale and largely unblemished. And the loincloth which covers the Lord’s waist? That was almost certainly missing on Golgatha. Not only did Jesus die a horrible death of asphyxiation, but he did so publicly in a state of naked humiliation.
Jesus knew that he was going to rise again, but as his body was stretched out on the cross like a bloody canvas, is it possible he doubted, even if for a moment, whether anything good would actually come of his agony?
Of course, we believe that Christ rose from the dead after laying three nights in a tomb hewn from rock. In our own day, we know that after these last few hours of Lenten fasting, sorrow is eclipsed by Resurrection joy; the Triduum is defined by Easter, not by Good Friday.
It’s easy for us to decry how the Apostles lacked faith as they hid from the authorities, but in the same situation, how many of us would do otherwise?
But perhaps we are too quick to gloss over the tragedy and the profound discomfort of the Passion. In order to get the full Christian experience, it’s important to know the depths of pain just as much as we recognize the glory of what comes after.
One idea for Ignatian prayer today is to put yourself in the shoes of one of the disciples. It’s easy for us to decry how the Apostles lacked faith as they hid from the authorities, but in the same situation, how many of us would do otherwise? Try to imagine the fear, the uncertainty, the disappointment, maybe even the anger Jesus’ followers felt. You were promised the kingdom of God, and yet the one you called the Messiah has just been executed like a common criminal. For all you know, the message of salvation has just been cut short, like an orchestra that suddenly stops playing mid-symphony.
Despite all this, maybe you have some faint hope that this isn’t the end—although it seems naïve, even delusional to think this, having slept only fitfully the night before. Still, Jesus said that the Son of Man would rise again on the third day, and you can’t shake that out of your head. Maybe you have just an ounce of hope that what he said about rising from the dead will come true.
Get to know Doug Girardot, O’Hare Postgraduate Media Fellow
What are you giving up for Lent?
I gave up chocolate and at least tried to give up sweet things generally. I was largely successful, though at many points I did it more out of habit than as a conscious sacrifice.
Do you cheat on Sundays?
No. Interrupting an activity is a sure way to break a habit!
Favorite non-meat recipe
I make a vegetarian burrito with a tortilla, refried beans, chopped onion, tomato, cheddar cheese and copious amounts of sour cream. It’s sad, but it gets the job done.
Favorite work of Easter art
I always loved when my parish growing up would sing the Celtic “Alleluia” before the Gospel on Easter, after so many weeks of the solemn “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” It felt like a collective sigh of relief after Lent.