As we walked out of Church on Holy Thursday, a concerned look came over my nine-year-old’s face and she looked at me, dark curls framing her face, blue eyes wrought with confusion. Carrying the baby with my left arm, I reached out and grabbed my four-year-old’s hand as he rapidly approached the Church parking lot with a bounce in his step and not a worry in his mind. My nine-year-old trodded along, lost in her thoughts. The pitter-patter of her footsteps drew closer and she suddenly blurted out, as if we had been engaged in an argument, “But Mom! I don’t understand. Why is tomorrow called *Good* Friday if that’s when Jesus was crucified?”
In the millisecond before I answered the depth of my mind responded with a response we say aloud during the Stations of the Cross, “(We adore you oh Christ and we praise you.) Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” And I explained to her as best I could our story, the story of salvation.
It is tough, even for our adult minds, to understand the redemptive value of suffering, to trust the light at the end of the tunnel when we are holding our breaths through the darkness.
My priest, Father Paul, reminded me recently that there is a reason there’s a cross hanging above our altar at Church, not an empty tomb. Because it is through the cross that we get to the empty tomb. Good Friday is good because without the holy cross, there is no Easter, no resurrection or redemption.
I have a really hard time embracing the poverty of injustice in my suffering. It’s really hard to carry my cross and see it as the way to the empty tomb, the resurrection.
As I write, the refrain of an old song I learned from my Protestant father comes to mind, “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.”
Old Rugged Cross (originally by George Bennard)
(This painting is my favorite art piece, possibly ever. It was a gift to me from my husband after years of searching for a “black crucifixion.” An anniversary gift. How romantic, right? It hangs in our dining room as a reminder that there is light at the end of the tunnel, salvation for those that suffer pain and oppression. The artist is Tim Ashkar.)
As counterintuitive as it is, Good Friday is good, just like our suffering is good. It is through suffering and death that we experience eternal life, after all.