Fr. Jigs Rosalinda
The liturgical rituals on Good Friday (Passion of the Lord) always, in my experience, coincide with the most scorching of days of summer. Traditionally, parishes hold the “Siete Palabras” (the Seven Last Words) from about noon time. At its culmination, the Service of the Word and the Adoration of the Cross get on their way at 3 o’clock in the afternoon—right in time for the death of Jesus on the Cross. (This is perfectly timed by liturgists who say that timing is essential). This is followed by a procession of images at around 5pm, when the sun is still visibly up. But we brave through all these, when given a chance, since the highlight of the Holy Week can very well be that which is most difficult to do. The more difficult they come, the better we feel we have immersed ourselves into the mystery of the Lord’s suffering!
We say the “beauty” of the Holy Week is its climax—Good Friday! Besides Easter Sunday, there is nothing that compares with the intricate decorations of our Santo Entiero and Mater Dolorosa. The first reading, however, challenges our idea of a “beautiful” celebration. Isaiah describes the suffering Servant of Yahweh (Ebed Yahweh, Ish Koboth) thus, “so marred was his look beyond human semblance,” (Isa. 52: 14b); “there wasno stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him” (Isa. 53: 2b). He alluded perfectly to Jesus on the Cross, mocked and struck repeatedly (cf John 19:3), bloodied and left hanging on the cross until he bled dry. Can this be the beauty that enthralled us believers in this liturgical commemoration?
The Gospel gives us a postscript, a point for reflection, after the Lord expired (literally, “breathed his last”). It says, “They will look upon him whom they have pierced” (John 19:37). Something in this man on the Cross deserved our gaze. He endured to the end, while stricken and smitten by God. He was silent when harshly treated (cf Isa. 53: 4ff) . He was really (like) the lamb led to the slaughter (Isa. 53: 7). That Jesus endured sufferings and remained steadfast in faith and trust in God, speaks so much of an inner beauty, call it power, or even grace from within. Unshaken to his core, even when surrounded by violence, can only be described in the words of Carlo Cardinal Martini as “the beauty that saves”. Jesus preached on the Cross that there was none more beautiful than the hardest of sufferings.