Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Why on earth would anybody call this day good?
Today is the day when Christians everywhere, with solemnity and reverence, recall the most heinous thing that has ever happened. Today, good Catholics all over the globe recall unparalleled evil; and it is ironic that anyone would call it good.
Why does God allow such evil, such suffering, such pain to exist? When we ask that question we make the same mistake those ancient Israelites made; when we ask that question, we misunderstand God most fundamentally.
We don’t have a God who prevents suffering; we have a God who suffers.
We don’t have a God who protects hearts from being broken; we have a God who had his heart broken.
For the average spectator, Good Friday could actually be a day about sadness, and rightly so. It wouldn’t take us long to list the tragedies that have occurred since last Good Friday - in our world and in our families, we’ve experienced lots of pain. We’ve lost parents, grandparents, and family members; some of the parents reading this have experienced that unnatural, heart-wrenching pain of losing children; some of us have lost friends and others dear to our hearts. Today could easily be a day of woe and gloom, a day of remorse, and a quiet reflection of the evil that still exists in the world.
But, I propose that today ought to be a day of gratitude. Today should make the National Holiday of Thanksgiving look like small potatoes…because as we come forward and adore the Holy Cross, as we genuflect or kiss the cross, as we look up and gaze upon the Savior’s lifeless body…we’ve just gotta remember…that oughtta be me up there. I’m the one who deserved that death, that evil, that ancient and eternal punishment; by His stripes we were healed. Our culture wants to tell us to ignore sin; it tells us that sin, that the idea that we can offend God, is old fashioned, that evil in the world is a norm imposed upon people by an archaic institution. The world wants to tell us if I’m okay, and you’re okay, then it’s okay…but the reality is, if I’m okay and you’re okay…what’s He doing up there?
Jesus suffered for us, He hung upon the Cross, the instrument of our redemption, for you and for me. He was humiliated, betrayed, bruised, and spat upon, not just for mortal sins…but He hangs in agony for white lies, for fudging taxes. The crucifixion didn’t take place for murderers, He’s on that Cross because we gossip about our spouses, disobey our parents, cheat on tests, drive over the speed limit…He died for us, for all of our sins great and small…and He refused the sedative. He wanted to suffer all the way, 100%, to show us the depth of His love, so that our suffering could never be worse than what he suffered.
And for this we are thankful.
St. Paul tells us: I boast in nothing but the Cross of my Lord, Jesus Christ. Striking. We don’t boast in creation, in the world our God made. We don’t boast in cathedrals or art or the pastoral symphonies of the great composers; we don’t boast in the Vatican or in our great Saints…we boast in the Cross. The Cross is what Christianity has to offer to the world. Good Friday forces us to ask ourselves: are we for God or against Him?
As we listen to the words of the Passion of Our Lord, we relive, reenact, recall, remember, His suffering, His passion, His death, and this doesn’t leave a third way. Either we’re Christian, we’re all in, He can have everything we have and everything we are, He can have our joys, our smiles, our laughter, our sadness, our sickness, our suffering, and our loss…or He can’t. Today forces us to decide whether we’re going to be Judas or Peter. Today forces us to be either the crowd or the women who stayed with Jesus to the end.
Good Friday demands that we choose which way we’ll follow the God who got his hands dirty to love us, and if we choose the world, the status quo, how everybody is getting by, then today is a day of sadness when we should nostalgically remember the evil which took place on this day 2,000 years ago. But if we choose to follow where the Master trod, if we choose - freely and willingly choose - to embrace the Cross and to suffer as Our Founder suffered, to give our lives meaning and purpose in Him and in nobody and nothing else, boy, then no wonder they call this Friday Good.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Are you for God or against Him?
How will you respond to the Cross?
What makes this Friday truly a good day for you?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"You are Good."
"You love us."
"I choose You."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Make this day a true day of fasting, prayer, and focus on the cross. Head to the Celebration of the Lord's Passion at your parish, and spend time truly sitting with the reality of what He did for us on this day.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Fr. Jon Bakkelund, priest of the Diocese of Rockford.