I am nursing a cold on this Good Friday so I am at home alone, rather than in the company of other pilgrims who mark this signpost of our faith by going to church.
I have been reading a new book for Lent, God For Us, which is not only full of rich writing, but also packed with a wealth of religious art.
Today’s reading was accompanied by a stark black and white etching by print maker George Rouault called “Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world…”
As I sat with my morning coffee — my Bible and the book of Lenten readings splayed open on the couch next to me — I found myself returning not to any of the words I’d been reading.
In fact, if truth be told on this Good Friday, my head was too bleary with flu to actually remember many of the words, even though today’s Lenten reading was by Kathleen Norris, a particular favourite author of mine.
Instead, it’s the image that caught hold of my imagination, causing me to think about Good Friday in a new way:
Good Friday is the ultimate reality of Evil, with only the hope of Good.
That is what I found myself thinking as I looked at Rouault’s graphic image and pondered the name he has given the etching: ‘Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world…”
Yes, I believe this to be true.
Oh, I know that it’s Friday, and Sunday’s coming. I firmly believe we do not live in the hopelessness of Good Friday, but rather in the resurrection hope of Easter Sunday. This is the reality I choose to live in:
Easter Sunday is the ultimate reality of Good, with only the shadow of Evil.
But the shadow still exists. And even though shadows are not the real thing, they can loom large over us, catch us unaware; terrorize us into believing darkness is all we will ever experience. Sometimes escaping the shadows seems beyond us.
That must be how many people in the Congo, in Syria, in Ukraine are feeling.
For many people, Good Friday goes on far too long. Yes, Jesus is still in agony and will be as long as this world suffers so much violence, so much hatred, so much pain.
When will it end? With the coming of God’s kingdom, of which I believe this:
God’s Kingdom is the ultimate reality of good.
No shadows. Only light.
Every now and then I catch a glimpse of it. And for that, on this Good Friday, I am grateful.