Reflection on Good Friday

– Rev Dr Joseph D Cortis, Leeds Cathedral

When we read one of the Passion accounts, we follow the contours of the darkest day in history. God has come into the world, and has manifested His great love in the flesh; yet that flesh has been subject to all kinds of mistreatment, humiliation, scourging, torture and death, ultimately because of the rejection of that love.

We know all too well that the brutality that killed Our Lord is not new, and there are obvious, tangible events of just that kind manifesting themselves in our time to a world that is keenly watching. Not to mention the countless other places where it has or does go on, with little or no interest raised such as those in abusive relationships, those struggling with addiction, those struggling to feed their families. As Christians, we are supposed to make a connection with this day, a day we bring to mind on other Fridays throughout the year, so that we don’t forget to unite the sufferings of our Lord and the sufferings of violence and injustice in our world in our prayers, and of course, in our actions to build a different and better world.

But in the midst of such scenes on this day, there is a deeply personal question for each of us, as we hear the contours of the darkest day unfold before us. You see, it would be a mistake to allow this drama to unfold but yet remain an observer, or that it is simply to do with what is happening a few steps or even thousand miles away from us. Today is about each and every human person, and it comes with a challenge: God has come into the world and manifested His great love in the flesh: so how have I/you rejected that love?

If we read the great words of the Passion, with our eyes wide open, and with hearts that seek to learn, we may just get an insight as to what form that rejection takes in our own lives. It’s a daring question to ask, because it drags us right into the heart of the story as a protagonist and not an observer, puts us at risk of seeing glimpses of what we are like at our worst, and for that to be laid bare before God.

But this is precisely what God is doing to each of us on this day, because He wants us to see the shape of our struggles to accept His love, so that through His struggles, His wounds and His death, we can be healed. That is why we call today Good Friday. Today the God for all creation tells us that those who care for the poor, those who take a stand against injustice, those who seek to bring peace and yet suffer, are acceptable to God. These are the ones who will share the life of the victorious Risen Lord.