Good Friday is the most depressing day of the Liturgical Year. I always consider Good Friday lasting until the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. At the Monastery we have Lauds on Friday and Saturday morning with readings from the Book of Lamentation and many of the suffering, cursing Psalms. This part of the Triduum is filled with the sadness of Christ’s passion and death as depicted in the Good Friday Scriptures. It is an experience that often leads me to meditate on those people who are really suffering in our world.
I usually find myself, on Good Friday, keeping busy with housecleaning and sorting. This year I, once again, found myself evaluating my possessions and getting rid of some things I really don’t need. That is Good Friday, for me, though. It is about reflecting on my life and separating the weeds from the good. I have come to learn that my puttering around my room is a prayerful act of my own spiritual housecleaning.
Holy Saturday’s Vigil includes the stories of God’s redemption of the Israelites. It is in direct contrast to Good Friday. The Easter Vigil embraces the ‘depression’ or ‘suffering’ of Good Friday and reveals the Salvation of God to all who struggle to keep faith. The series of 7 Old Testament readings are really stories that fulfill God’s Promise of everlasting presence in the life of the Israelites. No matter what situation the Israelites find themselves in, God redeems and renews them. The Gospel, of course, tells of the greatest salvation through Jesus Christ. God’s Love for Us in Christ is never going away.
As the readings unfolded, I decided my homily, if it were up to me, would be to walk around the Chapel and ask – what are your stories of salvation? What stories would you pass on from your life that show the Love of God? What stories of struggle and redemption do you have to share? The Easter Vigil is about stories of faith, redemption and the presence of Christ. Embrace your stories.
Easter is wild with color, joy and celebration, isn’t it? Easter is about surprises. Just as the disciples were surprised at the empty tomb and were anxious about what happened to Jesus – so do we find ourselves seemingly deserted and anxious. How many times are we surprised to find, in those anxious situations, that Jesus never really left? Sometimes, as with the disciples, it takes awhile for us to put it all together and recognize Jesus. The beauty is that through prayer, trust and faith we do find Jesus. Those are the resurrection experiences that touch us profoundly.
Another surprise happens as Mary Magdelene discusses her anxiety with a gardener, only to find Jesus is the gardener. It is such a delightful image of Jesus. Gardeners are essential to caring for the earth’s beauty, for bringing seeds to life. Constant vigilance is necessary! Jesus the gardener is powerful image for resurrection.