Well, yes, it is good. As the beautiful Holy Week hymn declares:
What wondrous love is this, O my soul! O my soul!
What wondrous love it this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this! that Christ should come in bliss
to bear the heavy cross for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the heavy cross for my soul! [This is an anonymous folk hymn.]
The incredible, perhaps unequalled, expression of love represented in the crucifixion is amazing goodness. Divine goodness.
But Good Friday is not only good. It is also horrific. We see this expressed in another Holy Week hymn:
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, your only crown,
How pale you are with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does your visage languish which once was bright as morn! [Latin poem/Hassler]
Good Friday also shows us the worst that humanity is capable of. It shows us pride, fear, arrogance, sin, insecurity, selfishness, greed, injustice, and evil in full force.
So this is a day of conflict. We are confronted with the best and the worst that humanity is capable of. It is a day of extremes that can leave us foundering and lost.
Somehow it seems fitting that we are enduring this COVID-19 pandemic over Good Friday because this worldwide cataclysm is like Good Friday in that we see it exposing the extreme goodness and the extreme vileness of humanity.
This virus has brought into sharp focus the amazing compassion that people are extending to one another. We see this incredible good bursting forth each and every day around the world. We see people working around the clock to provide for others. We see people driven to find solutions, cures, and treatments. We see neighbors reaching out in sacrificial ways to help strangers. It is quite extraordinary – the visible acts of compassion and self-sacrifice that are going on around the world as people help people during this pandemic. We see an incredibly beautiful manifestation of love and goodness.
The eruption of the coronavirus also exposes our worst. We see political posturing taking pre-eminence over the saving of lives. We see greed rearing its ugly head. We see fear-driven cruelty. We see the devastating disparities in our communities come glaringly to the fore.
And we have all of this time at home, not traveling to and from work, not our shopping, not going out to eat, with access to news and social media 24/7. Of course people are sleeping more. We need to shut down the newsfeed. It’s overwhelming. It is no wonder that at times we feel that we are foundering and lost.
Good Friday is a day to simply ponder, to take it all in, to let it wash over you, to wonder, to be adrift. In what you fundamentally know is an ocean of Love.
“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, 19th century