Holy Week always brings about a mix of emotions for me. Over the course of a few short days, Christians go from shouting hosanna to eating with friends to remembering the state sanctioned murder of our Savior to seeing that death and hatred defeated in the resurrection.
It’s a roller coaster for sure, one that I’m sure many others ride along with me.
The hardest part of the ride, for me, has always been Good Friday. The time between it and Easter feel like being stuck at the top of the hill, unsure if you’ll ever be able to ride down again.
On this day, we take time to remember how Jesus was betrayed by those he loved, how he was arrested and taken away to be questioned and beaten. We remember how Peter, who swore that he would never deny Jesus, did so three times.
We remember how Jesus never answered the questions of the authorities, how Pilate declared him innocent, yet still he was paraded around, mocked, and hung on a cross.
We remember the crowds of people shouting against him. We remember that they left him, naked and battered, for all, even his loved ones, to see.
We remember that this, all of this, is how he died. And we mourn him, not only because he is our Savior, but because no one should have to go through something like this.
This is what we sit with from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
Sadly, our present day leaves us to sit with much sadness as well. There are many to mourn for, many who undergo humiliation and violence, persecution and death. The victims of chemical attacks in Syria. The attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt. The Chinese man forcefully dragged and bloodied because he wouldn’t give up his seat on an airplane.
The gay men being abused and disappeared in Chechnya. The black woman whose abusive estranged husband took both of their lives, as well as the children who were shot in the same incident. The black man who was thrown down by police and punched in the face because he was supposedly jay walking.
The first woman Muslim judge in the U.S., also the first black woman on the New York Court of Appeals, who was found dead along the side of a river. The others in hurt and despair who didn’t make the news. In remembering these people, in remembering Jesus, it feels like very little is good on this day.
And yet, somehow, the good news still comes.
For our faith, the good news comes in the form of Easter Sunday, of the resurrection. Although he was betrayed, denied, unfairly arrested, beaten, mocked, and murdered, that STILL wasn’t enough to keep Jesus down. When met with the hatred and violence of Good Friday, Jesus shows us on Easter that none of those things get the final word. There is something stronger, and now we know it.
As we look at our world today, it is important that we learn and act upon the lesson of the resurrection. If hope and love and faith are stronger than violence and hatred, then we have to act in that truth. If there is power in overcoming betrayers, deniers, and persecutors, then we have to decide not to be betrayers, deniers, and persecutors to our siblings in God’s great kingdom. If we want our world to move from the sorrow of Good Friday to the jubilee of Easter, we have to use our Savior as inspiration to say “no more.”
We can say “no more” to weapons used against others, both in this country and abroad. We can say “no more” to victim blaming, particularly when it happens to people of color. We can say “no more” to turning our heads as LGBTQ people are denied and tormented. We can say “no more” to ignoring violence against women, and against people of color, and against other religions. Because we know that hatred can be overcome, we can say “no more.”
This Good Friday, let us take time to mourn.
Let us reckon with the pains of the world, both of our time and of Jesus’. Let us remember that, for many, especially women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and those facing religious persecution, every day can potentially bring about a reason to mourn.
And, as we mourn, let us also remember that Good Friday is not the end of the story. There was more in store for Jesus, and there is more in store for us. Let us be the ones to show the good news in our deeds.
Photo by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.