Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Good Friday, Gospel Saturday
Volume 7 No. 410 April 13, 2017
Finally we are at the zenith of the Passion Week - The Good Friday. Of course, some will argue that Easter is the zenith; but emotionally, Good Friday definitely is the peak. Perhaps, it is because Jesus Christ went through the passion, all the beatings, abuse, agony in the Garden, fake trials, nailing on the cross, death on the cross etc. in full view of every one. The resurrection happened early Sunday morning when it was still dark and the first persons to learn of it were some women who went to prepare His body. No show and tell.

In resurrection, we see the power, strength and glory of the God.

On Good Friday, we see the sacrificial lamb being slaughtered as ransom for OUR sins. Jesus appears helpless. He doesn't fight. He suffers all the abuses silently with prayer.

So, why is Good Friday Good?

Jason Jones says that this Friday is like 'a funeral of one who loved us more than we ever loved him.'

We call this Friday "Good" in an almost ironic spirit, since this marks the worst event in the history of the universe--worse even than the fall of man, which was simply a sin of disobedience. Today we remember the judicial murder of God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, at the hands of the greatest empire in human history, and the leaders of the purest religion on earth.

No doubt, our Enemy laughed to scorn at what he thought was his greatest triumph, the rejection of the Messiah by all the world, except a few women and a teenager named John, who stayed at the foot of the Cross. The devil did not know what was coming, and for us to experience this day as we should, we ought not to jump ahead to Easter.

Instead, we should go with Jesus from the Garden to the Cross, then follow him to the tomb, and wait in the barren silence that reigned in his mother's heart, even as our Lord moved through the underworld, collecting the righteous souls from centuries past, whom he would release into heaven. Let us keep our tables sparse and our voices quiet today, as if we were at a funeral of one who loved us more than we ever loved him. There will be time for celebration, once the darkness of Good Friday noon gives way to Easter dawn.

Yes, the darkness of Friday clears way for the brightness of Sunday and the cheers, "He is risen. Indeed he is risen."

All the Orthodox faithful will spend practically the whole day in church on Friday, experiencing hour by hour what Jesus went through on that dreadful day. We will see Him being taken to Calvary and crucified. We will share the anguish of His mother, and experience the sword being pierced into her heart like Simeon predicted on the Presentation of Jesus at the temple on the 40th birthday of Jesus. We see the body of Jesus being lowered and placed in the lap of St. Mary like Michael Angelo depicted on Pieta. We will accompany Jesus' body in the funeral procession to the virgin cave of Arimathea Joseph for burial. We will taste the sour liquid that was given to Jesus when he cried, "I thirst" in the cross. After all these, we will go back to our homes and wait till Sunday morning or Saturday Night to go back to the church like the women did 2000 years ago.

Friday is Good because Jesus fulfilled the plan for the redemption of mankind as planned by Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit - the only reason for His incarnation. By his death and resurrection, Jesus won over the death, paid for our sins and made us eligible to be the "sons/daughters of God". That is what makes it good. As Dr. Scott Hahn suggested:

Destined to sin and death as children of Adam's disobedience, we have been set free for holiness and life by Christ's perfect obedience to the Father's will (see Romans 5:12-14,17-19; Ephesians 2:2; 5:6).

Pope Benedict in his Encyclical "God is Love" clarified the sacrificial love of God:

"The real novelty of the New Testament lies not so much in new ideas as in the figure of Christ himself, who gives flesh and blood to those concepts - an unprecedented realism"

This unprecedented realism of God's passionate love for us is demonstrated and fulfilled in God's culminating act of sacrificial (agape) love by His dying on the cross to save us. In Jesus Christ, God comes searching for us, His lost sheep, and begs and pleads with us to come home to Him. His death on the cross gives us the way to come home as His Church is born through the outpouring of water and blood (the Sacraments) that flow from our Lord's side even today through the sacramental ministry of His Church.

In our Anaphora of Holy Qurbana, the priest proclaims:

Thy death we remember
Thy resurrection we confess
Thy second coming we look for;
Thy blessings be upon us.

We therefore, Thy sinful and guilty servants,
recall Thy whole redeeming economy and operation;
we await Thy awesome and glorious second coming,
about which we tremble and quake;
and we offer up our prayer and intercessions to Thee,
and through Thee to Thy Father.

All are accomplished except for the Second Coming of Jesus.

Indeed it was a Good Friday.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World


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