This was my Good Friday homily. I hope you like it. [mb]
Most of you know I was raised Baptist. Not much of a Baptist, but technically that’s what I was. At least, that’s what my mom was. In the Baptist church, you weren’t baptized until you were old enough to decide for yourself, usually in your teens. We went to church once in a while and I went to Vacation Bible School, every summer. But as a kid, my knowledge of religion was pretty meager.
What I knew about Good Friday in those days was that it was the day Jesus died….and that we got the day off from school. That was in the days before political correctness, so even the public schools called it Good Friday. We also got the day after Easter off, which the kids called Good Monday.
We had a small family, just my mom and dad and me, and an aunt and uncle, Aunt Mary and Uncle Elmer. Aunt Mary’s mother lived with them. Her name was Aunt Fern. My mom worked, so I spent a lot of time at Aunt Mary and Uncle Elmer’s house.
The only time I remember seeing Aunt Fern in church, was at her funeral. I don’t even know for sure what church she belonged to. She was buried from the South Side Christian Church in Hannibal, MO, so maybe she belong to that one. That would explain why she never went to church. It was more than 100 miles away! Which is a long way of getting to the other thing I knew about Good Friday.
There were two things about Aunt Fern that would make you think she was a religious woman. One was a beautiful picture of Jesus that she had in her bedroom. It was the one where Jesus is standing outside the closed door with no door knob. I loved that picture even though I didn’t understand what it meant; that Jesus can’t come in unless you open the door for him. I used to lay on my Aunt’s bed and just stare at it.
The other thing was that Aunt Fern thought you would go straight to hell if you ate meat on Good Friday. She would have rather been tied to the railroad track in front of an oncoming train, than to eat meat on that one day of the year.
So, you can imagine that as a kid without much religious background, I knew that this was a very special day. What I never understood was why they called it GOOD Friday. If it was the day they killed Jesus, what could possibly be good about it. Even getting the day off school didn’t seem like enough to make it a good day. I thought it was a terrible day. It was the day of the worst crime in history; the day they murdered God.
That idea didn’t leave me until I was much older when I read this quote from someone names Sister Melanie:
“What a paradox! We call good the day we commemorate Jesus’ passion and death. Why? Certainly Jesus’ death was anything but good. It was a terrible event–an awful evil, a loathsome crime. But we call today good because it revealed once and for all just how much Jesus really loves us–so much so that he could embrace such a horrible death for us. As we meditate on Jesus’ terrible sufferings, let us also ponder his tremendous love.
“Think of those who love you most. Now multiply those loves by a million, a billion, infinitely. That’s how much Jesus loves you. That’s how much God loves you.
“If we could really believe we are the apple of God’s eye, what a difference it would make in our attitude, our outlook our choices. How eager we would be to love someone else in the same way. Yes, there is much suffering in the Passion of Jesus–repeated beatings, the crowning of thorns, the carrying of the cross, the pounding of the nails in his flesh, the hanging on the cross. But most of all there is much love. Instead of merely feeling sorry for Jesus, let us accept the challenge to follow his way of loving–a way that inevitably includes the cross. Then we will have another reason to call today Good Friday.”
So, it is a good day after all. It’s the day Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for you, and for me, by shedding His blood on the cross.
In a moment, we’ll venerate this cross, as a sign of our love for Him. But let’s not end it there. Let’s live our lives as a sign of how much we love and appreciate the Lord for making such a sacrifice for us.