Good Friday is Not Just a Day, It’s a State of Mind

It’s hard for me to be happy again around Easter.  Jesus just got done being dead, we just got done mourning!  And now we are supposed to be happy?  I wrote about this before, but I see Jesus continuing to die and be resurrected — continuous births and deaths of Christ.

Look.  We can make statements later, as we try to figure out what sacrifice means, that Jesus was beautiful in his deformity, and the blood turned into roses.  But I’m betting the early companions didn’t see it that way.  We can play this game all afternoon — what did Jesus do?  what did he think?  what would his companions really think?  — and get nowhere.  But the death was real.  It IS real.  And the survivors had to pick up the pieces and figure out what Jesus meant to them.  It doesn’t seem like sunshine and hymns.  It seems messy.  Even the Resurrection seems messy to me.  What about knowing your dear friend or son or teacher is dead, and then suddenly seeing him again?  And they didn’t really know that he was conquering life and all, that was added in later Christianity.  His companions wanted Jesus to stick around with them as long as possible.   So when he left again, ascended into Heaven, it seems like they were at some sort of loss.

Do you know that in Spanish Catholic writings, there are stories of Mary being with Jesus at the cross, every step of the way — even her being crucified on the cross instead of Jesus?  It’s not a one-day mentality, this sort of loss of a child.  It’s not a puzzle that can be solved by Easter Sunday.  It’s the continuous rebirth and rebirth of grief — of the survivors — and of (re)telling the story of Jesus…stories of which began to form Christianity.

I struggle with the crucifixion as a metaphor — but I think it boils down to cycles.  The other thing the crucifix offers is hope.  The how-dare-you rise above that shit!  How dare you come back swinging.  So while I don’t think Jesus conquered death and created us all in a New Covenant as Christians, he taught us how to remember, mourn at our own pace, and hold out a little hope.

1 thought on “Good Friday is Not Just a Day, It’s a State of Mind

  1. I have trouble letting go of the mourning, too, and I can only imagine how complicated Jesus’ return must have been. I’m sure there was joy — crazy joy — but as you point out, there was also another letting go at the end of the 40 days. I’d also be like, “Jesus, why didn’t you tell us you were coming back?!? We went through all that pain just to see you again three days later?” Although, you can argue that Jesus tried to tell his friends many times, and they just didn’t “get it” — and if he had told them outright, “Look, I’ll come back to life,” they may not have believed that, either. Holy Week always gives me a lot to think about.

    In Andrew Greely’s Book “How to Save the Catholic Church,” he talks about how, even though Easter is the most important Christian holiday, most Christians *feel* the greatest connection and devotion to Christmas. He argues that this is because, as human beings, we all relate to the joy of a child being born, but that we don’t really know how to relate to or exactly what to do with someone coming back to life; we can’t easily relate it to the events of our own lives. Every connection has to be metaphorical, and not everyone is good at metaphors. I think that might be part of why Holy Thursday and Good Friday linger and loom over Easter — because as humans, we understand how bittersweet a last night with friends is, how painful losing a loved one. We’ve been there in our lives, so it’s easier to go there with the Lord. Easter requires a larger leap, and it’s more complicated than Christianity might have it seem.

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