Good Friday: A Friday that Reminds Us of God’s Infinite Love Towards All

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Good Friday: A Friday that Reminds Us of God’s Infinite Love Towards All

Good Friday is a day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is observed during the Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday, Great and Holy Friday (also Holy and Great Friday), and Black Friday. From the early days of Christianity, Good Friday was observed as a day of sorrow, penance, and fasting, a characteristic that finds expression in the German word Karfreitag (“Sorrowful Friday”). This year Good Friday is celebrated on Friday, April 2, 2021.

Why is Good Friday called Good Friday? Probably because good used to mean holy. Good Friday” comes from the obsolete sense “pious, holy” of the word “good”. A common folk etymology incorrectly analyzes “Good Friday” as a corruption of “God Friday”. In Old English, the day was called “Long Friday” (langa frigedæg), and this term was adopted from Old English and is still used in Scandinavian languages and Finnish.

Good Friday reminds us how much Jesus loved us through his suffering and death. He died for us and for our sins. The date of good Friday varies from one year to the next on both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Eastern and Western Christians disagree over the computation of the date of Easter and therefore of Good Friday.

Following the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), the mainstream of Christian tradition has held that Jesus’ last meal with his disciples on the evening before his Crucifixion was a Passover Seder. That would place the date on which Jesus died on 15 Nisan of the Jewish calendar. According to the Gregorian (Western) calendar, that date would be April 7. Christians, however, do not commemorate that fixed date. Instead, they follow the apparently flexible date of the Passover—which conforms to the Jewish lunisolar calendar rather than the Gregorian solar calendar—by relating the Last Supper to the seder. Although that assumption is problematic, the dating of both Good Friday and Easter has proceeded on that basis. Thus, Good Friday falls between March 20, the first possible date for Passover, and April 23, with Easter falling two days later.

The question of whether and when to observe Jesus’ death and Resurrection triggered a major controversy in early Christianity. Until the 4th century, Jesus’ Last supper, his death, and his Resurrection were observed in one single commemoration on the evening before Easter. Since then, those three events have been observed separately—Easter, as the commemoration of Jesus’ Resurrection, being considered the pivotal event.

The liturgical celebration of Good Friday has undergone various changes over the centuries. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday, though a liturgy is performed.

Beginning in the Middle Ages, only the officiating priest took Holy Communion, which was consecrated at the Maundy Thursday mass; laypeople have also communed on Good Friday since 1955. The liturgy of Good Friday consists of the reading of the Gospel Passion narrative, the adoration of the cross, and Communion. In the 17th century, following an earthquake in Peru, the Three-Hour Service, prayerful meditation on Jesus’ “Seven Last Words on the Cross,” was introduced to the Catholic liturgy by the Jesuits. It takes place between noon and 3 pm. Similar services occur in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, where no Communion is celebrated on Good Friday.

The Passion of Jesus of the final 12 hours before his death is well depicted in “the Passion of Christ” American film of 2004 produced, co-written and directed by the well-known Hollywood actor Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus of Nazareth, Maia Morgenstern as Mother Mary, and Monica Bellucci as Mary Margaret. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The dialogue is entirely in Hebrew, Latin and Aramaic.

Unlike Christmas and Easter, which have acquired numerous secular traditions, Good Friday has, because of its intense religious connotation, not led to an overlay of secular customs and practices. May the passion and death of Jesus inspire us to face life with a positive attitude and to reach out with compassion, to the oppressed, suppressed and crushed people of our society.

The old rugged cross is a popular Lenten hymn written in 1912 by Evangelist pastor Bernard (1873-1958), USA and it is sung in the first video by Alan Jackson and in the second video, the hymn is sung by the congregation at Belfast, North Ireland. The third video is the famous Latin hymn sung on Good Friday, namely, Popule meus (My people) composed by Tomas Luis de Victoria ( 1548-1611)


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