Dead! Dead! Dead! We tend to use the word “dead” more than we sometimes think, since to most of us, death is not usually one of the most favourite topics for public speaking or not usually a welcome topic. For those of us who drive, we come across dead end signs when driving, and for those of us who work in the office – we tend to have a place for dead files; also journalists are always rushing to meet the deadline.
In all these cases, the word “dead” implies an end of some kind: end of the road; end of an order/programme; end of time to write an article or to broadcast a story. And “dead’ means just that: no more, finished, done, over, finito, caput.
No doubt that when the soldiers came to Jesus’ cross “and saw he was already dead,” they too thought no more, finished, done, over. They felt that there was no need of breaking the leg to speed up the process of death. I guess their words were “this one is gone, let’s just carry out the thrust of the sword”.
But how wrong they were!
With Jesus, “already dead” isn’t the end. The cross is not only the instrument of the death of Jesus, but better to be viewed, as the sweet wood of exaltation, salvation, and reconciliation.
On this day, we need to silence ourselves and ask again and again who was this man, this man of sorrow; this man of suffering?
And why did he have to undergo all off this?
Of course, we Christians know the answers. But sometime it calls us to do more. This is why I love Good Friday service. I love the sombre and solemn atmosphere: we need to quiet our mind and soul so that the answers can resonate in an innovative and new way; that the answers will find a new way in our spirit; that the answers will awaken and find an inner room in our conscience; that place, deep within where we tend to connect with God; that place deep within where God speaks in the silence of our being.
We must then live in gratitude and love. We need to show appreciation that we have been redeemed; that Christ has transformed us from within and he has opened the gates of heaven for us.
When we ponder what Christ has done for us, this can only create a wellspring of love, gushing out from within: a wellspring of love that purifies and cleanses and returns us to the one who should be at the centre of our life.
We need to be willing to die to ourselves if we want to heal divisions, hurts and pain. We need to be willing to die if we want to love others with the same compassion and mercy that Jesus faithfully showed.
The cross, the mystery of death – calls upon us to the transformation of self, that is the only way to harmony and to lasting peace.
This day – this Good Friday, is a reminder that the road to peace is paved by a cross. This day – this Good Friday, is a reminder that “dead” is no longer the end. Death opens the way for new life, unity and peace.
All of us have betrayed Jesus like those disciples so long ago. The encouragement of this day is that Jesus does not count betrayal as the last word. His last words, “It is finished,” indicate that he had accomplished all that was necessary to heal our divisions, to bring reconciliation among us, and between humanity and his Father.
To live this well, we must surrender ourselves to do as Jesus did – die to self for the sake of others. We actually look for ways to embrace death, to be self-giving, to die to self. This is how we should live. This is how we choose life.
Today is our Lord’s Good Friday. But each of us is called in love to live our own Good Fridays.
Fr. Elton Letang is a Roman Catholic priest from the community of Giraudel.