Why do we call this Friday, “Good”? The question is not occasioned by any sort of mystical inkling, but by something rather more prosaic: the UK grocery chain, TESCO’s unfortunate ad, flogging their Easter weekend beer and cider sale.
“Good Friday just got better!” their ad proclaims. As Our Lord had only easel and gall to wet His lips, the bar were fairly low.
First, it bears mention that “Good Friday” is a diction peculiar to English. In most modern European tongues, anyway, the day is simply “Holy Friday”, while in the typical edition of the Roman Breviary, it is feria sexta infra hebdomadam sanctam – Friday of Holy Week.
So, if we are thinking with the Church about this peculiarity, we are not only thinking with the Church in English, but thinking with the English-speaking Church.
What is good about this day?
Certainly, it is good to recall the event that won for us redemption, and for the world, salvation.
The thing itself, though: the death of God?
What is good about that?
And also everything.
God made the world out of nothing, and it was good.
He annihilated Himself in His human nature, to save the world He had made.
The world of His creation is rife with examples of good things coming out of evil, but these are always cases of consequence, and often unintended.
On the Cross, God Himself becomes the nothingness of sin – for evil is privation, it has no being – and, having become that nothingness, makes all things new.
Stat crux, dum volvitur orbis.
I’ve always loved the hymn, “Were you there?”
I know it’s Protestant in origin.
I don’t care: there’s nothing wrong with it theologically (the way there is in many Catholic hymns from the silly season).
What do I love about it? I love its simplicity: it indicts us, and through it, we indict ourselves.
“Were you there?”
No, I wasn’t.
If I’d been alive, I’d have scattered and hid like His other “friends” … or I’d have been there, in the crowd, calling for His blood, or holding a scourge or a hammer.
That does cause me to tremble.
Ave crux, spes unica!
“Were You There?” instrumental overture performed by the Annie Moses Band
“Were You There?” performed by Victor Trent Cook and the Three Mo’ Tenors