Deacon Stu Dobson’s Reflection 4-7-23

Good Friday, April 7, 2023

Is 52:13-53:12; Ps 31:2,6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Heb 4:14-16, 5:7-9; Jn 18:1-19:42

Preface: I will admit, this is from last year. But, when I read it in preparing for this year, I liked it so much, I decided to use it again. However, I would like to add one thing, the words: Jesus wept. We hear it three times in the Bible. Once for Lazarus, (John 11:35), once for Jerusalem (Luke 19:41,) and a reference to His prayer time in the garden in Gethsemane (Hebrews 5:7) where He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears. As you read through the following reflection, keep in mind those words, Jesus wept. For Jesus wept for us, as He went to His death. 

Today is Good Friday, a day of bittersweet sorrow. The day our Lord sacrifices Himself on the cross. As a friend was saying earlier in the week, we have this dark shadow cast over us all week long leading up to Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. But, as he says, we don’t have to dwell on that darkness, we can choose to focus in on what our Lord has done for us, by dying on the cross and saving us from damnation. Yes, we still need to atone for our sins, but Christ’s death opens the door to our salvation, that hope we have to spend eternity with Him in heaven. That is why today, Good Friday, is so bittersweet. We are sad that Jesus dies, but are happy He dies for us, so we can be saved. 

Sometime today, or maybe Saturday morning, spend some time, re-reading and meditating on Christ’s passion (and I would add, also read Hebrews 4:14-5:9). Grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Be prepared to write down what comes to mind. Then, put yourself into the scene. Listen to what is being said by slowly reading through the passages, Pause here and then to really think about what was just said, and by whom. What do they mean? Who else heard it? What could they be thinking? What does it mean for me? Smell the smells, hear the sounds. 

It was all quiet in the garden, when suddenly it was interrupted by an approaching crowd. Imagine the chaos going on as they dragged Jesus away. Now you are by the gate at the temple, you are tired, cold, and afraid. “Hey, you’re one of them aren’t you?” “Get away,” you yell. “I don’t know the man!” How easily we forget. “Crucify Him!” the crowd yells. What should I do, you think. Everyone is pressing in, yelling and screaming. It is so chaotic and frightening. You follow Him as He drags the cross to Golgotha. Think back on the stations of the cross you meditated on during Lent. All the times Jesus stumbled and fell.  When He looked you right in the eye, with love through the pain and blood as it poured over His face. What is He saying to you? Write it down.

Now they have Him on the hill, and they laid Him out and stretched out His hands. Listen to the sound of the hammer hitting the nails as they nail Jesus, and others to the wood. What else do you hear? The robbers on either side screaming out in pain? What about Jesus, what does He do? 

Are you a crowd gatherer mocking Jesus, or are you a follower in pain, trying to understand what is happening? Oh, the stench of death, the smell of rotting flesh. Are you a centurion, wondering when this will be all over so you can go home to your family? Who is this guy anyway? Why are so many crying in agony for Him? What the heck did He do anyway? 

It is not a pretty sight. His mother Mary and Mary of Magdala are at His feet crying, and the one disciple He loved was there as well. “Women, behold your Son,” He says. “Behold, your mother.” What are you feeling right now? Betrayal? Fear? Anguish? Write it down so you can look at it later. 

Jesus has now died, and they take Him down from the cross. What a tragedy this is, there was no reason this man had to die.  Now He is laid in a tomb. He is gone. And everyone goes home, not sure what to do next. 

Mediate on the passion reading some more. Read it again if you need to. Write down everything you thought of. Spend time with Jesus our Lord in His final hour. He did this for you, He did this out of love. 

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL