Is 52:13-53:12 | Ps 31 | Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9 | Jn 18:1-19:42
The stories ring all too familiar: a Christian gunman opens fire on a synagogue. A Christian colleague mocks her Muslim co-worker for what she wears. A Christian insurrectionist clutches a copy of Sacred Scripture as he attacks our nation’s Capitol.
In recent years (and throughout history) the world has witnessed hateful, harmful sins committed in the name of Christianity. People claiming to answer Christ’s call, instead embrace the power of Pilate and the chief priests. Chants of “Crucify him!” and “Crucify her!” stain our sacred history.
On this Good Friday, we might do well to remember that God calls Christians toward the cross—armed not with hammers and nails, but with courage.
Today is the day to lay down our weapons; rid ourselves of the words and actions that crucify. Today is the day to die to darkness, so that tomorrow we may rise with Christ in glory.
The virtue of courage is like any muscle. It can only be strengthened through practice. To build muscle, you actually have to tear muscle. Consider Mary, the Mother of Jesus; Mary, the wife of Clopas; and Mary of Magdala. John’s gospel places these three women at the foot of the cross, close enough to hear the dying Jesus utter one of his last commands: “Woman, behold your son.”
The women who accompanied Jesus throughout his ministry drew closer during his final days. These women heard Jesus speak of his impending death many times along the road. They knew of the suffering that would befall their beloved friend. Still, when the hour came, these three women stood courageously by Christ’s side.
If put in such a spot, would we do the same? I know we’d like to think we would, but chances are, we’d abandon him as the others did, and you’d still only have these three. Like these three named women, we are called to move toward the cross, and called to stay in its shadow at our darkest moments. We are called to summon the courage of the three Mary’s and bear witness to the holy cycle of life, death, and resurrection.
By taking up these calls, we will make new stories to tell and contribute to the good (and not the stain) of our sacred history: a Christian volunteer feeds her hungry neighbors. A Christian advocate petitions government officials for better treatment of migrants. A Christian son or daughter keeps vigil with their dying parent.
On this sacred celebration of Good Friday, let us lament the times we approached the cross with hammers and nails—as individuals and as the Church—and then afterward, commit to drawing ever closer to the cross with courage.