Good Friday is, of course, a day of death. Despite the fact that no one should even want to hear about it more or less talk about it, one of the traditions you can find on Good Friday is a three-hour service, most of it preaching, talking, about death.
We do this (or more accurately, other people do this) because death is a problem, a problem people are actually trying to solve. “”If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500? The answer is yes,” Bill Maris, Google Ventures’ managing partner and president, said in a Bloomberg profile.” If you add up the known and rumored amounts Google has put into living virtually forever, you’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars.1
The issue here, though, is that for the Christian, death is less a problem than it is a mystery. A sad, wrenching, mystery, but a mystery nonetheless.
As Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote, “The only answer to the mystery of death would be for someone to break the death barrier. Someone must pierce the mystery from within and when that Death was preceded by poverty, hunger, thirst, hatred, miscarriage of justice, intellectual barbarisms, and scourging, and the seeming abandonment of heaven, then I know that nothing that happens to me or anyone else can be worse and that it is eventually to be swallowed up in joy and peace. Christ answers, “Can you not see that everything that touched you first touched me. I am in the midst of your sorrows; your tears run down my cheeks; your thirst is but an echo of my parched cry of the Cross. I died the very death that I conquered.”2
We are here today to die that death with Christ, to chant out His sorrows, to venerate the instrument of His death, to visit and even be thankful for the mystery of it all. If that sounds a little off, if it feels weird to be talking about death all day, I get that feeling, I’m with ya. But imagine what it would feel like to someone who doesn’t know what happens on Saturday night, the joy we have on Sunday morning; imagine what it must be like to know death is coming but not to know the Man whose death conquered death. Perhaps they might like to meet Him this weekend?
1Maya Kosoff, Google Executive Says It’s Possible to Live Forever, Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/google-ventures-investing-in-oncology-startups-2015-3
2 Archbishop Fulton Sheen (Footprints in a Darkened Forest) and taken off Facebook.