Great and Holy Friday (Byzantine Rite): 17 April 2020

Today is Great and Holy Friday in the Byzantine Rite:

To our mind,  tonight’s meditations are upon our darkest encounters with sin and evil.

First, we are outraged at Judas’ betrayal of Our Lord, and at the Sanhedrin’s corrupt will to destroy Him, and at the callous perversity of the crowd who shouted “Crucify Him!”

We have ached for Our Savior’s trepidation as He prayed in the garden for His Father to “take this cup from Me; nevertheless, Your will be done.”

While His admonishment of Peter, together with His anguish in the garden, reveal as surely as His lowly birth, the many meals He shared with His disciples, and the very fact of His mortality that Jesus Christ was fully human and therefore prostrates before Almighty God, his admonition, also, of Phillip, who asked of Our Lord to show him the Father, may begin to reveal also His divinity – that Jesus Christ is not only fully human, but also fully God.

This becomes more fully evident in the season to come, with Our Lord’s triumph over death, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

In this day and in these hours, we are horrified at the brutality He endured, we are awed at His gentleness and goodwill as He is tortured to death in public disgrace and yet prays for his tormentors and forgives the sins of others; angry at Judas, and Caiaphas, and the ungrateful multitude who threw down their palm branches and sang “Hosanna” before shouting “Crucify Him,” we might catch ourselves indulging in the pride to judge the sins of others, while our own sins confound us daily – against which He commanded us explicitly.

We are like Peter with his quick sword arm in the garden, ready to kill or maim to defend Our Lord whom we love, but contrite that we do so in disobedience to Him! How, then, are we to contemplate the climax of horror?

Father, if it be Your will, take this cup from us; nevertheless, Your will be done.

 It is finished.

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