Good Friday (Is 52:13-53:12)




            On Good Friday, we accompany Jesus in his suffering and death. The readings from Scripture remind us of his agonies of body, mind and spirit. It is not hard to pity this innocent man who suffered so badly, but we may not find it easy to connect anything we suffer or do with his sufferings.


            We have heard from childhood that “Jesus died for our sins”: that our sins killed him, and that he died to free us from our sinful self. Consequently, I should avoid sin and stop offending him, and give him my love instead. But what effect can anything bad that I do have on a man who died two thousand years ago? And what need does he have of my love, now that he is the risen Lord?


            There was more than “an innocent man” involved. Jesus is God the Son who took on human nature and identified himself with everyone of all times and places. Isaiah prophesied: “Ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried” (Is 53:4).


            Our own sufferings are God’s suffering in Jesus Christ. Our little life is the great life of God with us. Jesus connects our private pains with the pain of all human beings. He took on himself the pains of us all and transformed them by the way he accepted them and gave them as a gift of love to God his Father.


            Our pains are part of his much greater pain. Our sorrows are part of his much deeper sorrow. Our life experience is part of the life experience of all people, which belongs to the life of Jesus Christ the Son of God who became a man and identified with all people.


            Each of us is painfully aware of his or her own sorrows. It certainly helps to lift them out of my private little life into the life of Jesus Christ where I am healed and saved. If we grasp this much and face our personal pains and sorrows, not alone, but together with Jesus Christ, then we have begun to walk with Jesus.


            But we have only just begun. Not only my pains, but the limitations, pains and sorrows of everyone are the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.


            How often it happens that someone gets on my nerves because of his or her human limitations: laziness, incompetence, neurosis, insensitivity, mental illness, moral failings and the rest.


            My reaction is probably negative and basically selfish. I am impatient, frustrated, resentful, disapproving, disaffected. I walk in the presence of aliens when all the time, if only I could see them with eyes of faith, I could be walking in the presence of Jesus Christ.


            Theirs were the sufferings he bore, theirs the sorrows he carried. He suffers still in each of these painful people, and he asks me to stay with him and support him, because he may well be at breaking point.


            Good Friday is one day when we recall what is happening every day of our lives. We walk with Jesus all the time, whether we recognise him or not. It’s easy to recognise him in ourselves when people hurt us and cause us to suffer. It’s harder to recognise him in those whom we hurt and reject, for one reason or another.


            Let us set out today with renewed determination to walk with Jesus, not only in the joyful events of life shared with others, but also in the painful and sorrowful events of our own life and that of others.