Today's Gospel provides St. John's account of Jesus' passion.
The tone of Good Friday is a somber one. We know joy is coming, but it will be a difficult path. Like Dante, we travel through the depths of darkness before we reach the light. For then we see and enjoy the light as it truly is, having a comparison to its contrary and able to be fully enraptured in the Good.
A Roman cross was an abjectly horrible thing. But let us not pretend that such brutality was germane only to the ancient world. Lest we think too highly of our enlightened time, we need only look at our own world to where man savages his fellow man, both physically and psychologically. Political and economic disenfranchisement. War. Human trafficking. Drugs. The silent killers of time and family unity at the hands of media and entertainment addiction.
Darkness perpetually encroaches upon us. We cannot escape it by telling ourselves a noble lie, that we just make up our minds to be happy, define our own meaning, or anything else. That shell game collapses quickly.
Yes, the cross was horrible. But it was necessary for our good. Without the horror of the cross, we could not see and experience the glory of God. The cross confronts us with our own sin, the sin of our fellow man. When we see the crucified Savior, we see what cosmic rebellion really means. Disorder. Injustice. Selfishness. Pride. A spectacle of blood and contempt.
In His passion, Christ holds up a mirror and we see the result of man's spurning of divine love. We see ourselves for what we are without Jesus. We recognize what is broken in us and the need for a repair we cannot render.
Moreover, in His passion, we see the giving of Jesus' life for our own. We see God's love poured out for us. We see the ultimate sacrifice. The ultimate example of self-giving love. We see our sins being taken away. We see hope. We see that there is something beyond the darkness. No matter how difficult the path is, there is a destination at the end that is worth the scars incurred during the journey.