The Malankara World Journal Holy Week Special 3 (Good Friday - Holy
Saturday) - Issue 69 (April 5, 2012) is available online at:
This is the third special for the Holy Week. Today's edition of the
Malankara World Journal will cover Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the
Saturday of Good Tidings. The last of the special will cover Easter; we
hope to publish it on Saturday.
From my childhood, I always felt that Good Friday is something very
special. The services are long; but it never felt long. The kanji at the
end of the service really feel very tasty. We are busy doing the
prostrations (Kumbideel); trying to find a place to do it is a challenge
as the church is full. One year, I tried to stay outside in the tent
made to accommodate overflow crowds. There was plenty of space for
'kumbideel'; but after a dozen prostrations on the small pieces of rock
pieces on the ground, the skin of the knee just gave way and it started
bleeding profusely. I went back to the church; the choir mat carpet felt
much more comforting!
What we have in the US is a luxury compared to that. I get special spot
as part of the service team in the front. So, no need for competing for
the space any more!
Good Friday is also the time we recognize how beautiful our liturgy is.
The first procession is symbolic of Jesus carrying the cross to
Golgotha. After a look at the priest carrying the cross on his shoulder,
it is difficult to stop crying. The second procession is a funeral
procession. The most sorrowful scene of all, the Mother of Jesus crying
near his dead body. She is asking Jesus, "My beloved son, why did you
let them do all these things?" Does she remember at that time what
Simeon told her when she took the baby Jesus to the temple for
presentation that "a sword will pierce through her soul." Nicodemus and
Arimathea Joseph are preparing the dead body for burial.
In the sadness of the occasion, most of us miss out the transformation
that took place in the liturgy. The first procession had the theme of a
sad occasion. No ceremonial dresses. Just a shameful journey.
But the second procession is a true celebration. Jesus had died on the
cross. It was the mission of Jesus. Although He had pleaded with the
father to take the cup (of sufferings) away from him in Gethsemane, he
remained obedient; he overcame all temptations and completed his
mission. The centrality of the plan for the redemption of mankind was
for Jesus to die on the cross and for Him to resurrect on the third day.
Jesus has conquered death by dying on the cross. So, the church conducts
this procession as a true celebration. In fact, the church started this
day although we "officially" call the Pentecost Day as the Birthday of
the Church. Ceremonial dresses for the participants; bells, marwasas
indicating the presence of the angels, etc. add colors. It is just
beautiful in symbolism!!
Orthodox Church does not display crucifixes in the church. The reason is
that, for us, Easter is the most important day. The symbolism of the
empty tomb reinforces our faith. He is Risen! As St. Paul said, 'If
Christ hasn't died on the cross and resurrected on the third day, our
faith is worthless.' So, we have a live savior and not a dead savior.
That is what makes Christianity unique; no other religion has a savior
who has conquered death.
Holy week is the time to reinforce that faith. Cross became the symbol
of Christianity; it reminds us that Christ has paid the price for our
sins so that we can have free grace for the asking and believing. Our
Lord is not an an angry and vengeful God; He is a God of Love and Mercy.
Our God weeps for each of us like Jesus did when he went to the tomb of
Lazarus. He keeps tab of each of us. Not a single strand of our hair
will fall from us without His knowledge and approval.
Two years ago, Pope Benedict XVI stated while conducting the "Stations
of the Cross" on Good Friday:
"The Cross of Our Lord embraces the World, his Way of the Cross goes
across continents and times. We are all involved in this way. We don't
have the possibility to be neutral in the Way of the Cross. Pilate
sought the way to be neutral, to be far off, and it is exactly this way
he took a position for conformism and against justice."
"In the mirror of the Cross, we have seen all the sufferings of today's
humanity. But we have also seen stations of consolation. We have seen
the Mother who remains faithful on till death and beyond death. We have
seen the bold women before her Lord without fear of proving her
solidarity with the suffering."
"In this way, we have been invited all along to find our own place, to
find with these great persons the path with Jesus, the path of goodness,
truth, courage and love."
This Good Friday, please contemplate on the mystery of the cross and the
sufferings of our Lord. Try to understand the liturgy. While singing the
most popular Mor Aprem's Bovooso, or while listening to the long Sedara
prayers, try to identify what Jesus went through. It is not tough to
follow. The gospel readings tell us exactly what happened during that
period. So, listen carefully and meditate. Identify with Christ.
Only a very few days remain for the Holy Lent. I do not know about you;
but breaking the Lenten period into one week at a time made it look
short and more manageable!
Wish you a blessed Good Friday and Easter.
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Table of Contents: Holy Week Special 3 - Issue 69
1. Editor's Note
2. Bible Readings
Bible Readings for Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Sermon collection for Good Friday. Also included is a special collection
of sermons based on the 7 words spoken by Jesus Christ on the cross.
4. Resources for Meditation and Reflection
5. Featured: Good Friday Homily: I Thirst
As we listened to the Passion of our Lord according to John, we might
have missed it. We might have missed two simple and beautiful words.
Right before He died, right before Jesus breathed His last, He said; "I
thirst," two simple words. ...
6. Why Did Peter Weep Bitterly?
This is what Peter saw: he saw his sin and he saw the response of Christ
Jesus, the judgment of love and mercy. He saw that Jesus went to his
death by his own power. Before such tremendous love what else can one do
but weep bitterly? ...
7. The Spit of the Soldiers
Spitting isn't intended to hurt the body—it can't. Spitting is intended
to degrade the soul, and it does. What were the soldiers doing? Were
they not elevating themselves at the expense of another? They felt big
by making Christ look small. ...
8. Reflections on Good Friday
Good Friday is the bleakest moment in the Gospel story. Reading the
story of Jesus' arrest, trial and crucifixion today, we have the benefit
of knowing that it's all leading up to the triumph of Easter. But to the
Jesus-followers present at the scene, it must have seemed that the world
as they knew it was falling apart. ...
9. Who Will We Take on Good Friday?
Christ stands before us, the crowd, again this Good Friday. Who will we
take? Do we want Barabbas, the robber, or do we want Christ, the savior?
Jesus makes no promises to come in the way we expected. God is never
limited to the usual ways of acting in our lives. But God is constant in
love. Christ is ever compassionate. Who do we want in our lives this
time? They are waiting for our answer...
10. It is Finished
One of the last things Jesus said on the cross was, "It is finished." At
that moment, it certainly looked like the end. It looked like it was
over. But I believe that wasn't just a statement of fact, it was a
statement of faith. He was saying to Father God, "I've done My part.
I've fulfilled My destiny. Now, I've got total trust and confidence in
You that You are going to finish what You started through Me." Even
though it looked like the end, in reality, it was only the beginning. ...
11. Recipe: South Indian Yogurt Fish (For Easter)
12. Seed of Promise
Jesus would walk the long, lonely road to the cross. Rather than taking
the way of self-preservation, he would offer his life, like a grain of
wheat. He would die; he would be buried in the darkness of the earth,
but as a result he would bear much fruit. Despite what lay ahead of him,
and despite the trouble in his soul, he affirms, "For this purpose I
came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." ...
13. The Death of Jesus
When on the point of expiring, Jesus placed before his eyes all the
sufferings of his life—the poverty, fatigues, pains, and injuries which
he had suffered—and, again offering them all to his Eternal Father, he
said, All is now accomplished—all is consummated. All that the prophets
foretold of me is consummated; in a word, the sacrifice which God
expected in order to be appeased with the world is perfectly
consummated, and full satisfaction is made to the divine justice. ...
14. About Malankara World
Read all the articles and features in this week's Malankara World
Journal online at:
Thank you for your support and help.
In HIS Service
Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World Journal
ID No: 956