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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Special Post for Good Friday

by Fr. David M. Knight




Many people think that we celebrate the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. To them, Good Friday is a tough day for remembering the crucifixion and Holy Thursday a sort of nice day when we think about the Eucharist and visit church. But Easter is Sunday.

 

At some point they may have been told that Easter is the greatest feast of the year, greater than Christmas. But that doesn't seem true: Nobody gets into Easter as much as into Christmas. And besides, at Christmas school is out for a week or more; Easter doesn't rate that.

 

Easter is really a three – day Sunday: a celebration of the resurrection that lasts from Holy Thursday evening to Easter Sunday evening.

 

Good Friday is all about resurrection, not crucifixion! Holy Thursday is a celebration of resurrection, too. The three last days of Holy Week are one long celebration of the Resurrection – and of Baptism.

 

The Easter liturgy (all three days) developed as the one great celebration of the year. It was the time when new Christians were baptized – and their Baptism was an initiation into the mystery of our redemption; that is, of our rebirth as children of God. The mystery is that we are saved and reborn only by dying and rising, by being baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus. And this mystery is so central to our whole understanding of the Good News of Jesus that the Church spends three days every year celebrating it; presenting it to our senses; reading the Scripture texts that explain it; walking us through it; helping us feel it, appreciate it, experience it.

 

These three days bring home to us the meaning behind the words that invite us to celebrate on Sunday: "May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." They are the most important days of the year.

 

If Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are part of the Easter Sunday celebration, why aren't we obliged to attend services on those days? The answer is that ours is a religion of meaning, not of laws. Rules are necessary, of course, in any human community. But the early Christians would no more have thought of making a rule about attending Mass than they would have thought about making it a rule that parents should attend the weddings of their children!

 

Some things are just obvious. The three days of Easter are the most important celebration of the liturgical year.

 

If we really understand Baptism, and what it means for us to be the Church, what it is to be the living Body of Christ on earth, we understand that the "liturgical year" is just everybody's year, everybody's life – with its meaning made explicit. We don’t have any “real" life or "ordinary” life apart from our life as Church, our life as the Body of Christ. We have died, and our lives are hidden now in Christ. We live now, not just human lives, but Christ is living in us (see Colossians 3:3). To celebrate Easter, then, is to celebrate the meaning of life itself, of our lives. Given the relationship we have with Jesus Christ, it would make more sense for us to stay home from a daughter's wedding than from the Easter liturgy. If we felt our graced bond with Christ our Head as strongly as we feel the natural bonds of kinship, this would be obvious to us.

 

A meaningless life is hardly worth living. And meaning unrecognized cannot give direction to our love. During the Easter liturgy we celebrate the meaning and direction of life itself. That is why we give it three days.


Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry




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