Jesus Poster BulletinI grew up in a place where “Good” Friday was called either Holy Friday or Passion Friday. That’s the case, by the way, in all places where Romance languages are spoken, like Brazil, France, Italy, etc.

No one knows exactly how come this day came to be called “good” in the English language. Even in the German language, which many suggest as the source of the expression, this day is referred to as Karfreitag, that is Sorrowful or Suffering Friday.

In Denmark Good Friday is called “Long Friday” and in the eastern churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, it is called either “Great Friday” or “Holy Friday.”

The Catholic explanation as to why call this Friday “Good Friday” has to do more with theology than history. As the Baltimore Catechism says, “Good Friday is good because the death of Christ, as terrible as it was, led to the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, which brought new life to those who believe.”

As a child this day was anything but good to me. Because we were surrounded by Catholic neighbors on all sides, my mom tried everything to keep all her children (a small Praetorian Guard) inside the house, making as little noise as possible.

Our neighbor kids said that their parents said that any excessive noise would make Jesus’ head hurt. I don’t know if my mom bought that or if she was just concerned about her own head hurting from all the complaints the neighbors would have if her kids were not behaving properly.

We were more or less forced to spend the day meditating on the sufferings of Christ. Call that an accident of language or an attempt not to start a religious war between Catholics and Protestants, but the fact is that for me meditating on Christ’s suffering is still the most meaningful part of what we call Holy Week.

I have been meditating on the meaning of the cross to my personal life all this week. I think that my most impactful thought so far has been the realization that Christ meant the cross as the only tool of discipleship for His followers. It is as if you went to school and found out that there was only one text book and one lesson plan, every day, as long as the school was in session, which would be all the time. And that perennial lesson would be learning to suffer for the sake of Christ.

Peter warned the believers not to be alarmed at the “fiery ordeal” they were being subjected to, “as if something strange were happening.” (1 Peter 4:12). Did you catch that? People who suffer for Christ learn that this is to be expected. Being surprised at the attacks on Christ’s followers is a first world problem. Paul said that God has gifted (same word from where we get “grace”) to us both to believe and to suffer (Philippians 1:29). Suffering as a gift? No way!

Now I understand that it’s Christ’s resurrection that sealed the victory over the enemy and I love to celebrate the resurrection, but the part that touches the core of my being the most is still what Jesus endured on Passion Friday. Because of the realities of suffering Christians throughout the world today, the Christ of Friday is more personal to me than the Christ of Sunday. Thank God He is one and the same. Victory is still ours through Him.

Jesus is risen!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA