During the Easter Holidays, a Muslim acquaintance asked me the above question – the following is an attempt to answer this question succinctly – not an easy task for one subject to bursts of enthusiasm.
For me, Good Friday is the time to reflect on:
- the suffering of Jesus with respect to the dance between the redemptive suffering of Jesus and how all suffering is now ‘redeemed’ – that is, in spite of the suffering there is now always victory over such suffering.
- the unbelievable sacrifice that Jesus the Lord made, by suffering to such an extent so that I may be healed and freed from the power of sin and death in my life – what amazing love – amazing Grace. Given the depth and breadth of this love, do I surrender all to Him –Do I now grasp that I can rely on this forgiveness, healing, victory over death?
- the call to “stay here and keep watch with me,” – to comfort Jesus in His anguish – to be present, to be reverent – to sigh silently
- the call to imitate the life AND the death of Jesus in my life – to lay down my life for others. The challenge, “do this in memory of me” – how much am I prepared to surrender to the Lord that I too, can serve the ‘other’ to the same extent?
- the external community – intercessory prayer for those who are currently being crucified in so many parts of the world.
Good Friday for me is also a reflection on Mary on so many levels:
- Mary at aged 16 is told that she is to conceive a child, and “He will be the Son of the most high God”. In spite of social norms, Mary gives her unreserved ‘yes’ – a ‘yes’ to so many unknowns – with so many ‘how is this to be?”
- Thirty-three years later, she meets her ‘beloved’ – her Son, reviled by so many, publically humiliated and brutalised with Simeon’s prophesy becoming a reality “…and a sword will pierce your heart”
- Standing at the foot of His cross, her challenge is to SEE beyond, to TRUST, to HOLD FIRM even though her eyes sees the ‘reality’ of her now dead Son.
- Mary doesn’t rant and rave nor does she attack her son’s executioners but she STANDS in her heart-ache. She ponders in her heart.
- As the cross will always have its time at some stage in our lives, Mary lives-out the template of how to negotiate such times – with silent wisdom and a knowing, that this is the hour – this hour but not that hour – wait, stand, embrace the heart-ache – wait, stand, be still.
- Intercessory prayer – to hold and be present to, those who are being crucified globally – to stand, embrace, be still.
Reflecting on what “resurrection” means for me, I quickly realised that for me ‘resurrection’ was an ‘outcome’ of my relationship with Jesus. It’s not based on faith or theology or scripture but solely on my relationship. Like any love story, it’s the relationship itself which causes me to have faith, and teaches me theology and scripture. It woos me to itself.
“Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply”
(Henri Nouwen: Life of the Beloved 1992 p. 37).
My English friend of Jamaican origins, told me that when he sees another black man he knows, they shout to each other “I in I” – meaning that they acknowledge not only each other but their mutual experience of being black in a white society.
Likewise, the transformative power of prayer is to have the eyes to see the “I in I” of those around you. The two commandments of “Love God with your whole heart” and “soul and your neighbour as yourself” are now one.
However, I am acutely aware that without prayer, I’m automatically blind, I’m not centred nor am I open to the movement of the spirit as I’ve also become deafened by the cacophonous sounds in my mind or around me.
As an outcome of the process of prayer and succumbing to the wooing of the Spirit, for me it is an impossibility not to be concerned/involved/active in one’s society because the movement of the Spirit whispers “do this” etc. If I ignore that movement of Spirit, suddenly I can’t pray, suddenly I surface from my space of intuitive ‘knowingness’, suddenly I turn cold. In a nutshell, I cannot love God who I don’t see if I cannot love the other, who I do see. Likewise, I cannot truly love the other and respond as needed if I don’t allow myself to be loved by God, to be transformed by the power of the resurrection and to be ‘sent’ by the power of the spirit and like Mary, give my unreserved ‘Yes’ to be “Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given”.