One of the most nagging questions I had about Christianity growing up was why Good Friday was called good. It’s the day Jesus died. The altar is stripped or in black. It’s gloomy and sad…and good?
Over the years I came to understand how Good Friday got its name: It is finished, this is Christ’s sacrifice so that we might be saved, our salvation is what is good about it. But it still felt contradictory.
But a homily from a cardinal this week made me reexamine what was good about Good Friday. It wasn’t just good to us; it was good to Christ. Yes, his painful torture, the abandonment of his followers, his undignified death: he found them good.
The Father sent the Son into the world to save us. Jesus’ crucifixion was him perfectly following the Father’s will. It was his purpose on earth. We all search for our purpose, that thing that makes everything else make sense, makes all our struggles worth it. We want to know our place. We seek the satisfaction of doing what we were made to do.
Christ found his most satisfaction on that cross, fulfilling his purpose. I’m not saying he was happy or that he didn’t mind the pain. But he was at peace, knowing this was the reason he came to earth. Every part of his life led to that moment on that hill. His love for us was not just one sacrificial act; it was a life of following the will of the Father. God created the world and found that good. God was killed in a fallen world so that we might live, and it found that good too.
It is a gloomy and sad and good Friday.