What can we say about this day when our thoughts and prayers are with so many who are contending with the real possibility of losing a loved one as the virus continues to strike so indiscriminately? We have all been moved by the numerous acts of genuine love and sacrifice that so many ordinary people are making and it is so tragic to witness what is happening. We can only stand and express our admiration and our thanks to all the medical and care staff and other essential workers who continue to put themselves into dangerous situations in order to keep us safe. The price that some are paying is total.
Good Friday stands in our midst at this time as a challenge to the human condition. With so many heroic displays of human kindness and caring on show, we rightly step up and applaud all that is being done to alleviate the hardship and distress which the pandemic is causing. But on Good Friday the whole gamut of human emotion is on display and out it comes exposed in front of us. We are presented with the image of a human being seemingly unloved and unwanted. What does this tell us? It is a constant reminder to us of the great dichotomy which exists within each of us, and of the sometimes unnoticed way that we can slip from the one to the other.
The Cross is the reminder to us of how our humanity is a thing of immense and as yet unfathomed profundity. Down the ages, as this day has been remembered, we both hang our heads in sorrow
at what the Cross represents as an image of exposed humiliation, and on the other hand we wonder at it in awe, as an image of limitless, bountiful, sacrificial love. How are these two feelings resolved?
For the Christian, this is the moment, when the Son of Man is lifted up, when we trace the human pathway downwards to its deepest, darkest and furthest point from the love of God in which it was created. Humanity travels not to be left nor abandoned there, but to be gathered up by the same God who awaits us, with the same creative love with which he made us, so as to re-make us and bring us back into his glorious light. This is the incarnational light which Jesus Christ brings into the world.
Good Friday, in all its darkness does not overcome that light, which bursts forth on Easter Day, and the proof of this truth is on display in the lives of all around us, as we see and hear on our TVs, our radios and social media, of sacrifices being made and of love being shown.
"Here might I stay and sing, no story so divine, never was love, dear King, never was grief like thine. This is my friend, in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend." (S Crossman c1624-83)