Friday, April 14, 2006

The Not-So-Secret Secrets of Good Friday

Today we remember the Passion and Death of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. From movies such as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ to simple things such as going through the Stations of the Cross, Catholics are reminded of the immense suffering that preceded the death of Jesus. We are reminded of this each time we meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane was the first injury to Jesus, but to his heart, not his body. He suffered as he saw his friends drift away in sleep, as if they had already forgotten Him. He suffered as Judas Iscariot led the mob to arrest Him. This would have destroyed the faith of many as they see their friends easily turned against them. What saved Jesus from collapsing to his knees and begging for mercy?

As Jesus was judged by Pontius Pilate, the Sanhedrin and Herod, He was beaten, mocked and spat upon. His earthly form was torn apart by the scourge. His captors wanted to break Him, to see this King of the Jews weep and cry out for relief. What gave Jesus the physical strength to endure deprivation of food and sleep as well as being scourged up to the point of death?

The answer to both questions is that He did not fight God's will. Yes, he asked it to be passed over Him, but in the end realized that man's salvation would never occur unless He gave his life as the Passover sacrifice and carried away the sins of the world. To accept God's will is to become unstoppable in purpose. When we give ourselves up to God, we become the instruments of His will. We carry out His commands, and find our faith strengthened. This is the first Not-so-Secret Secret of Good Friday.

As Jesus hung on the cross for those long hours, he was mocked by those who passed by. The only ones who supported him were his mother and disciples. He had no other comfort until the thief next to him asked to be remembered in Heaven and forgiven. Jesus forgave him even in His suffering. Upon His death, the Roman centurion who had seen to it that Jesus suffered mightily through scourging, the crowning with thorns and carrying His cross exclaimed "Truly this man was the Son of God!" Even those who may mock and harass a Christian for his beliefs may find the one thing that brings them to the salvation and Mercy of Jesus Christ. This is the second Not-So-Secret Secret of Good Friday.

The third Not-So-Secret Secret is that Jesus rose from the dead, proof that salvation would be given to all who believed. To fulfill this, Jesus realized that He must die. Not a near-death experience, not a coma, but death itself would be His next experience. Until Easter comes, we can only keep vigil over the tomb, preparing for His glorious Resurrection.

Surrender to God's will, Conversion, and the promise of Resurrection are the three gifts given to us on Good Friday. The year has reached its lowest point, but wait patiently and you will see these gifts bear fruit. We have lost our Lord for only a short while, and we shall be consoled in our mourning. Our faith has been shaken but like St. Peter, we will return to what is right once we understand what has occurred. He shall rise again. We all are saved through it.

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