by Thomas O’Loughlin
Christianity – because of its use of the image of the cross – is often presented as a cult of death. Many Christians have collaborated in this presenting discipleship in terms of gloom, and prompting the wry comment from Nietzsche: ‘you Christians do not look redeemed!’ Here lies the great difference between, on one hand, what the liturgy of Good Friday wants us to experience anew, and, on the other, popular sentiment. Christianity is the religion of victory over suffering, sin, and death. This is why we call it good Friday.
While Mk 15:33-41 (followed by Mt and Lk) presents the passion as taking place in darkness (seeking to echo Amos 8:9), John – the gospel always read in the liturgy today – presents the events taking place in broad daylight: the mystery of the death of Jesus is a revelation, that which was hidden is now made clear so ‘that [we] may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing [we] may have life in his name’ (Jn 20:31).
by Thomas O’Loughlin
One of the skills that is not well developed among ordinary Catholics is that of taking a lead in a liturgical act: that is an action of two or more people which praises God through Jesus. This is not a widespread skill because usually there is a priest (or perhaps a deacon or a catechist) who does this – and we think of them as ‘the experts’ and tend to leave it to them. The expert acts, everyone else reacts. But that won’t work if you are in lockdown this Holy Thursday and Good Friday. So you or someone with you will have to act as a leader if you are to actually celebrate – which is more than tuning in to a celebration – these great days. Let’s not forget, everyone who is baptized is able to stand before God and lead some sort of worship – it is a basic Christian dignity.
Many Christians of all denominations are not going to be able to attend Church services over the next weeks, and maybe even months.
Rather than film myself celebrating Mass for my friends, and sharing the video, which seemed, to me at least, bizarrely clerical and pointless; or simply preparing video or audio of a homily for the Sunday readings, and posting that; I felt that it may be time to try something a little bolder.
If you have a garden and can get some greenery, then get enough to give a piece to each person in isolation with you.
If you cannot cut some greenery but have a potted plant, place that on the table – it will remind you and anyone with you of the strange year we are in.
Sit down around the table you are normally at for meals. If you do not have such a common table, then sit around where you normally eat.
Sisters and brothers, this Sunday we gather as individual households or alone in our homes. In all instances God is with us, the Christ is among us, and the Church is at prayer. This prayer resource is for you this Sunday.