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Why this Friday is Good for me.

Several years ago, my parish asked me to play Mary, the mother of Jesus, at our Living Stations of the Cross.

As usual, without thinking too much, I said yes.

Then I had to think.

What does Good Friday mean to me?

As a child, we were told that when Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins, it opened up the gates of heaven so we may have eternal life.

So as that child, I saw, on that very first Good Friday some two thousand years ago, the clouds splitting open, the sun shining, and locks at the golden gates splitting in two, doors opening wide, access to heaven awaiting us if we accepted Jesus as our savior.

That’s pretty abstract and far away for a child.

On that day, when asked to play our Holy Mother to a pretend Jesus, to a man I had never met before, Good Friday changed for me. Rather than being this abstract notion of being ‘saved’ after my death, it became a call to love.

As the mother of a son, it was easy to walk behind the pretend Jesus and imagine what it was like for Mary, the saint I revere most. The unjustified arrest, conviction, teasing, and taunting her son endured must have pierced her mother's heart deeply. Then she witnessed his flesh she spent so many years protecting, first flogged then nailed to the cross. And how it must have been to watch her beloved son suffer as he fought for each breath!

When they placed this pretend dead Jesus in my arms, I wept. I wept for Mary and all mothers who have lost children. For all who have watched sons and daughters suffer. Through illness, addiction, depression, and tough bad luck.

And the idea of loving the stranger, the unknown, the other, became a notion that seemed possible because, on that day, I loved a young man whose name I did not know, but I thought of him as Jesus.

In the Lord’s prayer, we say, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus also said in the gospel of Luke, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is’. For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Thomas Merton, the late famous Catholic monk, and writer said his love for God possessed him so much, for every two steps he took on the ground, he claimed four in the air.

If not for the memorial of this Good Friday, I may forget that my flight is not only for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and for my own eternal reward, but all those in my path. The grocery store employee with special needs, my children of the Good Shepherd atria, the refugee family, escaping injustice, my neighbor, my family.

So indeed, this Friday is Good. It’s good to remember the Kingdom of God is here, today, in front of me.

And there is no need to wait.


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