Good Friday Meditation

Since I was a child, it was difficult for me to connect with the idea of the Crucifixion that understands Jesus purchasing my life by giving up his own.  I get the logic that Jesus willingly pays the price of my sins in order to restore my relationship to God, to balance the celestial books, if you will.  But, even though I think I understand the logic of that interpretation of Good Friday, I see it as just that -- human logic to make the incomprehensible seem somehow reasonable.   For many Christians, it’s the one way to “get one’s mind around” the horrible scene on Calvary.    I would not fault anyone that way of entering into the mystery of this day that we call Good.  As in the face of any horror, there is a longing to make sense of it.

But, I also give thanks that this “debt and repayment” or “crime and punishment” understanding of the Cross is not the only way into the depths of God’s love shown to us today.  An equally traditional and accepted, even orthodox, imaging of Christ’s work on the Cross is to understand it as God’s going the whole extreme way to bring all humanity to life.  In order to reclaim humanity, indeed all creation, from corruption of sin and death, God choose to enter into the depths of our humanity, including our death.  There is no limit to God’s reach into what is human, not even a most unspeakably cruel death in order to draw all humankind into the Resurrection.  Because God does it in human flesh, and because we are human, God is doing it for us, too.

So today is Good because God welcomes us to join Him in His suffering and to join Him in His liberation from sin and death.  This unjust act renders all injustice and cruelty impotent in God’s economy.  Instead of seeing Jesus far off in time and place paying off a primordial debt on my behalf, today I pray that I may be one in Him in both his death and his rising.  And that rising gives me courage to be more free and bold on behalf of those who suffer injustice, disease, hunger and cruelty.

A medieval prayer called the Anima Cristi, the Soul of Christ, imagines today in light of God’s infinite solidarity with us and our deep union with God on the Cross.  Yes, it is a bit graphic. But that’s because God is urging us to come as close to God as God does to us in Jesus, the crucified.

I will be praying this prayer repeatedly through the day of Good Friday.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Within Thy wounds hide me.

Do not let me be separated from Thee.

From the malicious enemy defend me.

In the hour of my death call me,

And bid me come unto Thee

That I may praise Thee with Thy saints

Forever and ever.


The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire