When I celebrated Holy Week in the U.S. for the first time, I was puzzled because the Friday during Holy Week was called “Good Friday.” In Venezuela, we plainly call it, as we do with the other days during Holy Week, “Holy Friday.” So, what was good about it? Or, what makes it holy? That day, Jesus was betrayed, imprisoned, judged, sentenced, tortured, crucified, and pierced with a lance. Jesus’s death was the result of various sins: the arrogance of the Pharisees, the greed of Judas, and the indifference of Pilate. So, I ask myself again. What was good about it? What makes it holy?
After reflecting on the Scripture readings for this day, I found an answer to why these two adjectives are used. In this moment of darkness, there are some rays of light on Jesus’s path. Jesus, even though He is abandoned by His disciples and faces crucifixion, is acting in the same way He has acted throughout his life. He, instead of caring about His own suffering, cares for those around Him. The Gospel tells us that Jesus promised salvation to the one being crucified next to Him. Jesus, while hanging on the cross, asks one of His disciples to care for Mary, His mother. Jesus is also the recipient of compassionate gestures from other people such as Joseph of Arimathea who got permission to arrange for Jesus’s burial. And ultimately, the act of suffering and crucifixion, was not for Jesus’s sake, but for the sake of all humanity in an act of great love and sacrifice.
So, this Friday is “good” or “holy” because, as in Jesus’s story, we can be certain that in the darkest moments of our lives, God will be there to give some rays of light in the darkness and love that will never abandon us.
Merciful God, help us to be able to see the light in the darkness of our difficulties and help us to be light for those who are going through a dark path in their lives.
Deacon Lino Oropeza, Society of Saint Edmund
First Reading: Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
Gospel: John 18:1-19:42
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website