11 August 2007

Good Friday is everyday

O my soul, O my Jesus,
Judas sold you for thirty;
I have done it for less.
O my soul, O my Saviour,
Peter denied you three times;
I have denied you more.
As the nails went down,
I was standing right there.
As you breathed your last,
I shook my head and I cried.

O my God, what have we done?
We have destroyed your Son.
O my God, what have we done?
We have destroyed your Son.
O my God, what have we done?
We have destroyed your Son.
O my God, what have we done?
We have destroyed your Son.


O my soul, O my Jesus,
Judas sold you for thirty;
I have done it for less.
O my soul, O my Saviour,
Peter denied you three times;
I have denied you more.
And the blood ran down,
I was standing right there;
and the water poured,
I shook my head and I cried.

“What have we done?” © Joe Day
This sounds like a song we’d typically sing for Good Friday. It does after all sound strikingly similar to the solemn reproaches for the liturgy of that day, save that it is us who address God and his Christ rather than Christ addressing us.

You may wonder just exactly why am I posting this entry in August, instead of Good Friday; but as people say that “Christmas and Easter is everyday” so too does Good Friday continue throughout the year.

In our baptismal covenant, God initiates a relationship to which we respond in faith. This faith that we hold in common is not just a gift freely given by the grace of God, but it is a faith that works for the advancement of the kingdom of God. Part of the working faith we promise at baptism is to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbours as ourselves” and to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being” (BCP page 305) We pray God that he would “bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours, and grant that we may serve Christ in them, and love one another as he loves us.” (BCP page 388)

The sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” is usually interpreted as just that: You shall not murder. Yet this mitzvah goes deeper than that. To murder is not just to kill, but it means violence, not only in the physical sense, but in a spiritual, verbal, and mental sense. It’s so easy to commit violence, and it is astonishingly part of our normal routine each day. We fail “to show respect for the life God has given us; to work and pray for peace; to bear not malice, prejudice, or hatred in our hearts; and to be kind to all the creatures of God…” (BCP page 848) Our violence assassinates ourselves, and the lives and characters of others. As I've said, it’s quite easy to do: Just one small thought, word, or deed and you have already taken the life and destroyed the dignity of the person in whom you seek to serve Christ. We, in effect, have crucified our Lord once more on the barren tree with our silent or spoken hate and prejudice. Even delicious gossip and laughter at another person's shortcomings is another drive of the hammer on the nails which held Christ on the Holy Cross.

“All people are worthy of respect and honour, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.” (BCP page 846) Indeed, I and all of us have been guilty of disrespecting and dishonouring human life, therefore thrashing the life, breath, spark, and image of God in each person.

We have all spilled blood, scourged at the pillar, and ultimately crucified others; and ever so simply we do it every day. Dislike leads into hate, hate leads to discord, discord leads to pride, and pride leads to separation.

Let’s backtrack now from Good Friday to Ash Wednesday, reflecting on certain parts of the Litany of Penitence (BCP pages 267-268):
We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord. 
Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord. 
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord. 
For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbours, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.
And so we pray, and so we humbly pray, and so we earnestly pray:
O God, you made us in your own image
and redeemed us through Jesus your Son:
Look with compassion on the whole human family;
take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts;
break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love;
and work through our struggle and confusion
to accomplish your purposes on earth;
that, in your good time, all nations and races
may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen. (BCP page 815)

2 comments:

JN1034 said...

Painfully beautiful post, Joshua. Like Judas, we prey on Jesus, don't we? Nonetheless, like St Dysmas, the penitent, crucified thief, we cry: Lord, remember us when you come into your kingdom! He resurrected from the dead; the Spirit came and took abode within Christians. And now, we wonder ... Who's really preying on whom? Is this when the Hunted One becomes the hunter? Are we so delusional to think the wild game we track, through our petitions and litanies, isn't really leading us to his lair, to consume us?

JN1034 said...

PS: This is why we Orthodox believe Holy Pascha is everyday. Anyone can suffer and die and be buried like Good Friday. Not everyone can claim the illumination of Easter. By proclaiming Jesus' resurrection, we invite him to feast ... on us ... making us his banquet.