Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday?

The 'body' of Christ is removed from the cross before the
procession and is placed in a bier for the walk to the 'cave.'
Just what was 'good' about a Friday where you get hung up on a cross and left to die? Nothing, as far as I can tell. And so while I honor the day as being the Catholic and Episcopal churches sequence for the days approaching Easter, I have my doubts as to whether or not Jesus was really crucified on a Friday.

First of all, this event was supposed to have taken place over 2000 years ago in a place where Friday was the eve of the Sabbath for the Jews. Even though they were the proponents of the actions taken against Jesus, it seems unlikely that they would push for a crucifixion at that time of the week, especially if it was in between Passover (Thursday), their biggest holy day and their regular Shabbat.

There are references in the Bible to the women getting spices which they could not do on a Sabbath (Shabbat) day. And in the Jewish tradition, burial takes place within 24 hours of death, so if he was buried on the day of his death assuming it might have actually been Wednesday evening, three days later for his rising would put it at Saturday night, late enough that on Sunday morning, it is just discovered.

It doesn't really matter all that much, because Jesus' elevation from mortal to greater-than overshadows a mere day of the week. But it makes a lot more sense to me to think of Wednesday being the dark and final day of the Old Testament, because with His death on the cross, everything changes and we are no longer having to pay up front for our sins. We are on a full credit ride, pre-paid by Him for all those sins and thus begins the New Testament.
The 'bier' is covered with a tent and is carried by the young people in
the procession to the chapel, followed by many Baricharians and visitors.

Here in Colombia, the Good Friday is celebrated with a day of praying, attending masses at the churches, listening to sacred music and about 4 p.m. the priest announces the final words of The Comforter and everyone follows him out of the church to process with the 'body' of Christ up to the little church called 'Jesus' Chapel.' There a little stage has the backdrop of the cave and He is wrapped up and put inside it. It is all quite dramatic and certainly makes the event more realistic.

The procession takes about an hour to complete and I was told that all the men in the pueblo carry candles around through the night as part of the vigil, but as my Spanish is somewhat lacking still, I may have misunderstood that part of the event.
The procession comes up the hill to the small church called
"Jesus' Chapel," where He is interred in the cave.

At any rate, tomorrow the vigil continues and we wind down the activities of Holy Week with the sunrise on Sunday and a long mass afterwards.

As I stood in the church, listening to the priests shout and proclaim the story, I watched people around me to see what effect, if any, all this intensity was having on them. Sad to say, many looked bored, children were yawning or already asleep, dogs were running up and down the central aisle, lovers looked at each other longingly, and it was getting warm inside. I left and went outside. Since it was so crowded, many of the faithful were also sitting outside listening by loudspeaker. But there was little difference between the inside group and the outside group, except that the latter one could have ice cream, hormigas, beer or sodas while they sat and waited for the procession to begin.

What would Jesus do if he came back and arrived in Barichara? I think he would have found the spectacle no less daunting than 2000 years ago and perhaps he would still say, "Forgive them for they know not what they are doing..." because for all the pomp, there was still missing some of the love that he wanted us to give to one another.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. We are missing it aren't we? Sometimes I wish we could just push all the ceremony aside and just get on to loving each other. One day. One day...