Today, Christians around the world gather to mark Good Friday – a solemn celebration marking Jesus’ passion and death. As we listen to the words of the Gospel, we journey together to the cross, knowing that it changes everything. We take a moment to venerate the cross, this terrible yet transformative symbol, and leave the church in silence.
At the same time, we know that Good Friday is not the end of the story. We know that Christ does not remain in the tomb, but is raised to new life at Easter. The Christian story is one of hope, of new life with God, of salvation.
On Good Friday evening, many Catholics pray the Stations of the Cross, walking with Jesus to Calvary. This year, I’ll spend the evening volunteering at my local hospice. I’ll be walking a different set of stations during my time there: stopping at reception to sign in; making my way down a long hallway to the sacred space of the residence; going to the various rooms to chat with the residents or their families; stopping by the kitchen to prepare a meal for someone. Prayer happens spontaneously as I travel from place to place.
At each “station,” I am reminded of life and death. The residence is a lively place – faithful dogs visit their owners, children sleep over to spend time with a beloved grandparent, and people come from near and far to visit. Families and friends treasure the final weeks and days with the person whose earthly life is ending, and residents feel cherished. But everyone knows that they are on a certain journey, and that the outcome is now beyond their control. Death comes to the hospice, and often.
And yet… Although the hospice is for people who are near the end of life, it is a place of hope. Many people speak of where they are going and whom they will find there. For them, death is not the end, but the doorway to something new – something they’ve been walking towards for their entire lives. Yes, there is suffering now, but their suffering is transforming them and the people around them, bearing fruit in countless ways. Death is not the end. Resurrection awaits!
This Good Friday, as we walk with Jesus towards his suffering and death, may we hold in our hearts the Easter joy that will follow.
-Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor