Good Friday reflections
10 April 2020

On Wednesday (8 April 2020) Pope Francis gave his weekly General Audience from the Vatican Apostolic Library. In his Catechesis, he invites us to live Holy Week and the Triduum as “one great domestic liturgy”, looking to the crucified Lord and meditating on the words of the Gospel. The Holy Father usually gives his Audience before a large gathering of people but as seen in his last few Audiences and Masses, there were none. In the absence of the crowd, there was only silence.

Silence is what we experience today. Silence seems to have enveloped the whole world. There is silence on the streets and there is silence in our churches. No longer is the need to reach the Church early. Nor the need to rush to get the better seats in the church. Gone were the anticipation to venerate the cross while the meaning of fast and abstinence added to our loss.

Silence is dampened by a spirit of emptiness. Yet, it is silence that unites us today wherever we may be. We know that silence shall be broken and it was indeed broken by a loud cry from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34). It was a cry of abandonment, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” For the onlookers, God has been silent to this man’s call. For believers, it is the cry of the Messiah. Jesus was praying the psalm of suffering, Psalm 22. In that cry, Jesus was “taking upon himself all the tribulation, not just of Israel, but of all those in the world who suffer from God’s concealment. He brings the world’s anguished cry at God’s absence before the heart of God himself. He identifies himself with suffering Israel, with all who suffer under “God’s darkness”; he takes their cry, their anguish, all their helplessness upon himself – and in so doing he transforms it” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth). Jesus’ cry of abandonment is also “at the same time the certainty of an answer from God, the certainty of salvation – not only for Jesus himself but “for many”” (ibid).

Jesus cried for us and we believe that his cry will vanquish the silence we are feeling now. We shall be free – free from sin, abandonment and fear. God will also grant healing, recovery and salvation to all of us in the face of this pandemic.

Today as we mark Good Friday, Pope Francis invites us to look at the cross; to remain silent and to gaze at the cross. In that loving gaze, we are invited to discover who the Lord is to us. We look too at Scriptures and we see how the Scriptures are being fulfilled in the person of Jesus. Let us not be afraid. Let our silence be broken by the cry of the Lord Jesus. Let the silence be broken by our response in faith as we stand at the foot of the cross with the beloved disciples, Mother Mary, Mary of Clopas and Mary of Magdala.

We pray and take comfort in the Psalm, “Let your face shine on your servant. Save me in your love. Be strong, let your heart take courage, all who hope in the Lord (Ps. 30: 17. 25).

gloria et laus
Fr Patrick Heng
Blessed Sacrament Church, BDC, Kuching