Bengaluru: Good Friday is a very sacred day for Christians as they commemorate the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The day is observed with fast, abstinence, silence and sacred worship. And, therefore, everyone should respect the religious sentiments of the Christian Community. If the administrative, legislative and judicial bodies hold public examinations and organize conferences on this day, it would undermine the sanctity of this holy and spiritual day. The proposal to hold Judges’ meet on Good Friday caused a furore among the Christians. It is claimed that holding the Judges’ conference on Good Friday was akin to the central government deciding to observe “good governance day” on Christmas Day. Why only important Christian festival days are chosen for such observances and meets?
Good Friday is the day for us to focus on the Cross. When we gaze at the Crucified Christ on the Cross, the three most important teachings of Jesus Christ come to our mind, namely Love, Forgiveness and Sacrifice.
St John, one of the Disciples of Christ says: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” Jesus is the epitome of God’s eternal love, which he manifested by dying for the salvation of the whole humanity on the Cross. His death is the clear proof of his bountiful, unconditional love as mentioned by himself when he said: “There is no greater love for a man to lay down his life for his friends”. Once we accept and understand the extra-ordinary love of Jesus has for us, we are ready to take the next step: sharing that same unconditional love with others. Jesus told His disciples. “Love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 19:19). That directive is repeated several times in the New Testament. It is so important, in fact, that Jesus described it as one of the greatest commandments: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself. (Matthew 22:38)
In today’s world, all of us seem to lead a very self-centred life looking for our own comforts and needs, and forget the needs of our fellow beings. Our love should be manifested to all, especially to the needy and the poor, and the marginalized in our society since what we do for one of these least ones, we do for God. (Matthew 25:45).
The second aspect of Good Friday is a call to forgiveness. Christ’s most touching prayer from the Cross was: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23: 34).” What a magnanimous and forgiving heart Jesus had when he prayed for the forgiveness of his killers! Forgiveness is the most needed and expected quality for a better relationship with the members of our families and society. To be generous in forgiveness, we should be fully convinced that ‘no one is perfect and all of us have our own faults, failures and weaknesses’.
God forgives all our sins, always and without exception. Pope Francis said: “God rejoices when somebody asks for forgiveness and at the same time He “forgets” or wipes out from his memory our sins”. The reason for this, the Pope explained, is because what matters for God is for us to meet with him. To meet with each other and to maintain and promote cordial relationship with one and all, we must forgive the faults and shortcomings of others all the time. It is not so easy to do so, as it calls for humility, generosity, and open mind and heart. The image of God is reflected only through forgiveness as the saying goes: ‘God gives and forgives, and man gets and forgets’. Unless we receive the grace of God, we cannot become forgivers. Moreover, to become worthy of God’s forgiveness, we ought to first forgive the faults of others as we say in the Lord’s Prayer: ‘forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.’
The third lesson we need to draw from the Cross is the spirit of Sacrifice. It was not only true that Jesus died for the sins of the world on Mount Calvary, he also demonstrated the principle of sacrifice by which God does all His work. By remaining faithful to death on the Cross, Jesus proved that his spirit of self-sacrifice had no limit. As followers of Jesus, we too need to display the spirit of self-sacrifice by giving up our own interests in order to help others. The true meaning of sacrifice is to make ourselves available for those who seek our quality time, kind attention and patient listening. To be at the service of others is more important than doling out material things. God’s love, which is part of the motivation behind self-sacrifice, is the hallmark of true disciples of Jesus. We need to practice the spiritual discipline of sacrifice so that we learn to rely on God's provision rather than the things we have built for ourselves. Sacrifice is not easy, and it requires effort and practice on our part. God knows our limits, but that does not mean He won't challenge us to step outside our comfort zones.
Christ’s death on the Cross culminated in his Resurrection. He triumphantly rose from the tomb on the third day conquering sin, satan and death. It only proves that our sorrow, failures, death will turn into joy, success and eternal life. We who are called to partakers in Christ’s death are also chosen to become sharers in his resurrection.
May I wish the celebrations of Good Friday and Easter bring in us the spiritual renewal that fills our hearts with the gifts of love, forgiveness, sacrifice and joy, and also help us lead a genuine and meaningful human life. It is with great joy I invoke God’s abundant blessings upon all the people of the city and the state.
Most Rev. Bernard Moras
Archbishop of Bangalore
President – Karnataka Region Bishops’ Council
President – All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights