Good Friday Reflections 2012

Scripture Readings for Today's Mass are here.

Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Christian liturgical calendar. 

It doesn’t fit easily with the trappings of the material world's holiday season: the bunnies, bonnets or chocolate eggs. 

We don't send cards that say "Happy Good Friday."

It marks the day when the Light of the World was slowly and callously extinguished, when Christ slid into the tenebrae of the dark abyss of death, when the earth shook and the heavens wept, when the Son of God and of human nature died. 

It is a day of betrayal, abandonment, loneliness, and despair.
It is a day of the greatest injustice, the deepest suffering, the cruelest irony, and, in all creation, a day that gifts us with the most consuming example of the love of Christ which was selflessly poured out for all of us.

I do not fully grasp why Good Friday has to be the essential, unavoidable and final step on the road to Easter, or why the joy of Resurrection Morning can only enter via the gut- wrenching brutality and abandonment of Gethsemane and Golgotha. 

I do not fully grasp why I have to first taste the bitter gall and saltiness of tears before I can savour the sweetness of Easter Sunday.

I do not fully understand why the overwhelming sorrow of Good Friday is necessary to create a hollowed out space for transcendent joy to move into my heart.

 John Predmore at Ignatian Spirituality Set The World On Fire lucidly explains the feelings around Good Friday below.

"Good Friday has a strong grip on our consciousness. We are easily affected by the dramatic events of the day because we endure enough suffering on our own.

 It is easy for us to identify with some feelings of Jesus as he stumbles through his Passion. We are able to honor what Jesus is doing for us; at the same time we feel the weightiness of illness, dysfunction, broken relationships, and deep sorrow.

 We find that we reside in that sorrow as is it is a familiar friend. We look for meaning in it and try to find a way out, but we realize our powerlessness in the face of real suffering. 

We find that we are more of a Good Friday people than an Easter people. 

It is far easier to stay in the tomb in order to process our ambiguous feelings. We hang onto our memories of cherished times with loved ones and we want the world restored to its original beauty that we glimpsed at some point in our lives. 

We cling to hope while it is shrouded in darkness."

Yes, I cling to hope and faith in Christ !! 

Whatever I put here can never be complete but I find visual imagery and  the art of James Tissot useful, and poetry and music.

                                                  Ecce Homo: Behold The Man 

                                                                Jesus before Pilate

                        Click here for reflections on Pontius Pilate

                                             James Tissot: The Sorrow Of Peter

                Click here for reflections on Peter Denies Jesus

                                                         Mary kisses the feet of Jesus

What Jesus saw from the Cross by James Tissot

More images by JamesTissot for Good Friday from here.

Responsorial Psalm from Today's Mass  Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

R. (Lk 23:46) Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.

                                                                     Image by Cimabue

R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
For all my foes I am an object of reproach,
a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends;
they who see me abroad flee from me.
I am forgotten like the unremembered dead;
I am like a dish that is broken.
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God.
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors."
R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your kindness.
Take courage and be stouthearted,
all you who hope in the LORD.

R. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Psalm 22 ( not part of today's Mass.)

Click here for  a reflection on Psalm 22 below by Pope Benedict XVI given during a general audience held in the Vatican  in 2011.

Plea for Deliverance from Suffering and Hostility

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

            Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

            and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,

            enthroned on the praises of Israel.

In you our ancestors trusted;

            they trusted, and you delivered them.

To you they cried, and were saved;

            in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;

            scorned by others, and despised by the people.

All who see me mock at me;

            they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;

“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver —

            let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;

            you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.

On you I was cast from my birth,

            and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

Do not be far from me,

            for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,

            strong bulls of Bashan[1] surround me;

they open wide their mouths at me,

            like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,

            and all my bones are out of joint;

my heart is like wax;

            it is melted within my breast;

my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

            and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

            you lay me in the dust of death.

James Tissot "They parted his raiments and cast lots."

For dogs are all around me;

            a company of evildoers encircles me.

My hands and feet have shriveled;

I can count all my bones.

They stare and gloat over me;

they divide my clothes among themselves,

            and for my clothing they cast lots.

( Isn't that what we are still doing today in our churches? )

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!

            O my help, come quickly to my aid!

Deliver my soul from the sword,

            my life from the power of the dog!

            Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.

I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;

            in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:

You who fear the Lord, praise him!

            All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;

            stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

For he did not despise or abhor

            the affliction of the afflicted;

he did not hide his face from me,

            but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;

            my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied;

            those who seek him shall praise the Lord.

            May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember

            and turn to the Lord;

and all the families of the nations

            shall worship before him.

For dominion belongs to the Lord,

            and he rules over the nations.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
            before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
            and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
            future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
            saying that he has done it.

[1] “Bashan” – an area east of Galilee known for its cattle


              The Sorrows of Death Surrounded Me: Beautiful Gregorian Chant

                                           Jesus says to Dismas The Repentant Thief
                                              "Today you will be with Me in Paradise."


The recurring image in the poem below is that of the brier : the tangled mass brier of prickly thorny plants that tear at the flesh.


 Field of Thorns

The poet thanks Jesus for minimizing the pain of life’s thorns by putting His own body in harm’s way, bending back the brier with His “wounded arm” and walking ahead over the thorns to crush them. 

The brier thorns later become the crown piercing the head of Jesus.

Brier (Good Friday)
E. Pauline Johnson

Because, dear Christ, your tender, wounded arm

Bends back the brier that edges life’s long way,

That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,

I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.

Because I never knew your care to tire,

Your hand to weary guiding me aright,

Because you walk before and crush the brier,

It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.

Because so often you have hearkened to

My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,

That these harsh hands of mine add not unto

The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.

       Good Friday Ronald Rae

 Father Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do

Thanks to John Predmore S.J at Ignatian Spirituality Set The World Ablaze for this one below

"It was on the Friday."

It was on the Friday that they ended it all.

Of course, they didn't do it one by one.
They weren't brave enough.
All the stones at the one time or no stones thrown at all.

They did it in crowds.... in crowds where you can feel safe

and lose yourself and shout things you would never shout
on your own, and do things you would never do if you felt
the camera was watching you.

It was a crowd in the church that did it,

and a crowd in the civil service that did it,
and a crowd in the street that did it,
and a crowd on the hill that did it.

And he said nothing.

He took the insults, the bruises, the spit on the face,
the thongs on the back, the curses in the ears.
He took the sight of his friends turning away,
running away.

And he said nothing.

He let them do their worst until their worst was done,

as on Friday they ended it all....
and would have finished themselves had he not cried,
"Father, forgive them all."

And the revolution began.

Stages on the Way, Chicago, GIA Publications.

Agnus Dei: Lamb of God by Karl Jenkins,The Armed Man : A Mass for Peace
 This one below is a version taken from The Really Big Chorus at Abbey Road Studios for the 'Global Sing For Peace'

The Passion of Christ is seen through the eyes of some artwork by various artists and through the music of Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei.

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