By: Mr. Marcelo Ferrari
Seminarian, Archdiocese of Boston
Why is today good? Of all days in the Catholic Calendar today stands alone marked by the Title “Good Friday.” How can this be? Today is the day our Savior dies.
Our first Pope also recoiled at this thought: “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). Peter, in his burning love for Jesus, saw only with the eyes of his human heart. This was his first denial of the Cross of Christ. How can we not sympathize with his error?
What would we say? How would we react?
The One who so gently walks beside me, who has been a quiet comfort is all my sufferings. The One who gazes upon me with unending mercy; eternally faithful, in spite of all my infidelities. The One who has patiently endured my hardened heart. The One who has fed, healed, and raised me by so many miracles of conversion. The Son who has shown me the Father.
How can this be! Do not our own hearts cry out with St. Peter “God forbid it, Lord!” Do not leave me. Do not suffer at the hands of wicked men. How can I allow them to spit upon your precious face? To mark your skin with whips, and pierce your tender heart with a hardened spear? Please, my Lord Forbid it!
Jesus will not hear such a plea! He warns with words that terrify “‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me’” (Matthew 16:23). Oh, the pain of this rebuke. Still, we cannot deny Christ his Cross, but why?
Later, our dear Peter will accept Jesus’s death. He will set aside his questioning heart and cling to Jesus. At the last supper moments before Jesus’s Passion our Lord turns to his dear friend Simon Peter and pours out a prayer for him “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Peter greatly moved by our Lords words replies with bold courage “‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me’”(Luke 22:31-34). They may all stand against you Jesus—even your other disciples—but not I! I will even die with you before I turn away from you. It is hard enough to accept that You will suffer, but if it is necessary, at least I will never be a part of this great betrayal.
Jesus, I see how often in this world you are mocked; how violently people oppose You, though you do all things well. You who are so good to me, never will I abandon you!
A few hours later Peter heard the echo of his own voice “I don’t know the man!”(Matthew 26:74) Imagine how bitter his tears as he went out to weep. There in his own agony, Peter saw at last:
We cannot deny Christs Cross, because we are the ones who will crucify Him. We have all savored the fruit of sin. Today, Christ dies because of our sin, but He dies for us.
“While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us... while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son”(Romans 5:6-10).
First accepting His Cross, we must then accept our role as authors and conspirators of his Crucifixion. We must remain close, painfully close to our dying Jesus. It is a great mystery and consolation that the one who pierced him through, was the first to be covered in the mercy of His precious blood. The centurion who crucified Jesus was the first to cry out “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Matthew 27:54).