It has been said that Good Friday is the day that the Devil has his day. The tabernacles are empty, just as he wants them. The crosses are covered, as the devil wants it: he wants the cross, he wants Jesus out of sight. The altars are bare as he would want them always to be. There is no Mass today. There are no baptisms, no weddings or funerals. We don’t eat or drink much today, that is, we don’t party. This is all the devil’s will. And today he has his day.
Our readings remind us how the devil had his day with the Lord Jesus 2000 some years ago. That is what we remember today. We recall how Isiah’s words played out in the life of Jesus: “He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.”
Today we remember that Jesus was spurned, that he was spat upon, that he was mocked, that he was tempted, that he suffered bitterly, and that no one seemed to give a darn at all about what he was doing–and yet he suffered to the end.
When you walk the stations of the cross in the Holy Land, where the Lord Jesus walked them on this day long ago, it’s interesting because the way of the cross is in the midst of a big market center. It was like that years ago, too: everybody was busy, too busy to recognize what was going on around him. Those that did see what was happening–they spat on Jesus, mocked him, mumbled behind him. But most were simply indifferent to it.
But Jesus bore his cross anyway. It crushed him. It caused him to fall. And then he was nailed to it. This morning the eighth graders did a living passion play of sorts for the school. It was powerful. The sound of the cross hitting the ground. The sound of the hammer. It stung me to my bones, gave me chills. Those are the sounds of our salvation.
The cross, originally an instrument of death, God has transformed into the instrument of our salvation. That is why we kiss it. Strange, isn’t it–that thing we should hate the most, that thing that the Devil used to have his day, that is the thing we kiss–because Jesus redeems the cross. The cross is the power of our faith.
You and I carry parts of his cross even to this day. He carries them with us. Today we are called to touch our lips to this cross and to all the crosses of our lives. The things we hate the most, they might be the same things that save us. Today we kiss them.
The Devil indeed has his day today. And he loses.