As Christians around the world observe Good Friday, it seemed appropriate to offer some links that offered some perspective on this darkest of holy days:
In a column for the Huffington Post, Jaweed Kaleem turns to those who regularly deal with death and dying for wise and heartfelt reflections on the meaning of Good Friday and Easter:
If you are not clear in your head about your understanding about somebody dying tragically, if you cannot reconcile that with the higher power of God or force of nature, this will be tough work for you,” said Handzo, who teaches chaplains and palliative care specialists. “You will probably not do it well, and you will burn out. You have to go through death to get to resurrection.
It’s important for me to be reminded that this part of the of the Christian story. … It’s painful, but it’s also what can make things meaningful,” he said. “We can make a mistake a lot of times with people who are dying. We can take our beliefs and say ‘the resurrection is coming,’ or ‘things will get better.’ But some people are not ready for that, they are still hurting and mourning, and they don’t need that happy good news stuff. They need to be allowed to be where they are, to have that Good Friday time.
A moving interview with mother Emily Rapp who has just published a book on the experience of losing her 2-year-old child Ronan to a devastating and un-curable disease known as Tay-Sachs:
I went through what I think any parent who loses their child suddenly goes through. I was out of my mind. When he died, he was ready to die. Anyone who has witnessed a death or knows someone who died knows that in that final moment the body is unraveling. It will do its thing and you just have to witness it. It’s really wrenching but he was really, really sick when he died, and I wanted him to go because I didn’t want him to suffer any more. I miss him, but there was nothing for him here.
Renown author, activist and Jesus follower, Shane Claiborne, founder of The Simple Way in Philadelphia writes about the importance of taking the story of Jesus’ death, found in the scriptures, into the streets. He recalls courageous acts of worship and witnessing of Christ’s non-violent and loving way smack dab in the middle of grand symbols of violence and hate within the city:
As we approached the final station of the cross, about 20 of us crossed onto the property at Lockheed Martin. We bowed on our knees and began to pray the Lord’s prayer, interrupted by police officers who placed us under arrest. As we stepped into the police van, there was a solemn sense of peace. It was the right place to be. It was a magnificent thing to hear folks honk as they went by. We even had a police officer who had arrested us thank us for our witness and decry the evils of violence and war.
While Pope Francis may be deserving of criticism for refusing to take a stand on particular issues when he was an archbishop in Argentina or his antiquated views of homosexuality, it’s hard to deny that his affinity for the prisoner, the poor and the stranger is not genuine. Clearly, Francis is trying to break down barriers put up by the Catholic Church that has strayed away from Jesus’ command to proclaim good news and care for the least of these. Francis put his compassion on display on Maundy Thursday by washing the feet of 12 young inmates, two who were women. Although Francis has washed the feet of the people throughout his ministry, this marks the first time a Pope has ever washed the feet of those who were not bishops or priests:
The pope’s washing the feet of women is hugely significant because including women in this part of the Holy Thursday Mass has been frowned on – and even banned – in some dioceses,” said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of The Jesuit Guide. “It shows the all-embracing love of Christ, who ministered to all he met: man or woman, slave or free, Jew or Gentile.
Don’t lose hope,” Francis said. “Understand? With hope you can always go on.
What Pope Francis so beautifully practices, Rev. Ruth Hawley-Lowry brilliantly describes in words as she urges readers on this Good Friday and beyond to love one another, even our enemies:
Those of us in the Christian tradition are mandated to love one another. Period. But Jesus pushed the issue: “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbors and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5). (Excellent examples of such love exist in Bishop Oscar Romero and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.) Archbishop Tutu, who endured the hate and injustice of Apartheid, insists: “God Love Your Enemies As Much As God Loves You” which brings shocking comfort. (“Shocking” because it’s so wrong — and “comfort” because it’s so right.)