In our Reflections during this Holy Week, we have tried to understand, enter into, receive from, and share the Paschal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have done that in light of Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the Sacraments of his Church, the evils perpetrated by Judas the “spy” and his fellow malefactors, the Passover, the washing of the feet, and the institution of the Eucharist. Now we come to Good Friday and our liturgy again tell us the story of the Passion, this time from the Gospel of John. This liturgy is not a Mass. Word and Sacrament are included. But the emphases are prayer and adoration. In the Mass, we hear God’s Word with understanding and participate sacramentally in saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion, we do hear God’s Word, particularly in the long reading (or chanting) of St. John’s Passion, and there is also a Communion rite. But the unique elements of this liturgy are The Solemn Intercessions. which this year includes an added petition “for the afflicted in time of pandemic,” and The Adoration of the Cross.
On Good Friday, the Church unites in intercessory prayer and adoration of the cross. It is a day of fasting and abstinence when we gaze worshipfully upon our Lord, venerate the wood that was the instrument of our salvation, and plead for his saving grace to be poured out upon each and all. Today is not so much about understanding as about beholding, being with, and praying for. In the narrative of Saint John’s Gospel, Pontius Pilate says to the crowd, “behold your King” (John 19:14). Let us do that today.
Let us accompany Jesus as he drinks “the cup that his Father gave [him]” (John 18:11). Let us go with him to his abusing interrogation before Annas, and to his trial before Pilate when he was scourged and crowned with thorns and the chief priest and guards cried out for his crucifixion. Let us walk with him on the way of the cross that ends at Golgotha and behold him nailed to and hung upon the cross. Let us stand with John and Mary as he he declares that “it is finished” and “handed over this spirit” (John 19:30).
And let us pray. “Let us pray for all those who suffer the consequences of the current pandemic, that God the Father may grant heath to the sick, strength to those who care for them, comfort to families and salvation to all the victims who have died.” Let us beseech God in the words that the Church has given us today: “Almighty, ever-living God, only support of our human weakness, look with compassion upon the sorrowful condition of your children who suffer because of this pandemic; relieve the pain of the sick, give strength to those who care for them, welcome into your peace those who have died and, throughout this time of tribulation, grand the we may all find comfort in your merciful love. Through Christ our Lord, Amen”