After the reading of the Passion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the Gospel of John at the Good Friday liturgy, aka The Mass of the Presanctified, the rubrical guidance indicates that if there are a few words to be said by the priest, those words are to be brief. I obeyed. Here’s a brief summary:
- Firstly, I confessed my experience of Good Friday as a kid and until recently. Good Friday was always a super-sorrowful day, with the darkness and heavy weight of the sin of all mankind and mine bearing down… on me. And because it was all about me – and this since I was a kid (I remember everything) – I always tried to distract myself with the rules of fasting and abstinence. That will make it all better, thought I, ever so stupidly. How very lost on the peripheries I have been. Dear Lord, I am so sorry for not being with you in all solidarity.
- Secondly, I preached up the catastrophic trauma that Jesus’ good mom was going through in witnessing all the sin of all mankind vomited on her Son tortured to death, even while He died for us ungrateful cynical self-centered fallen men, Immaculate Mary being in perfect solidarity with her Son. After Jesus fulfilled all righteousness on behalf of mercy, standing in our place, Innocent for the guilty to have the right in His own justice to forgive us, after He died, she remained traumatized. The Body of her Son was lowered from the cross into her arms…
- Thirdly, mention was made of Mary the mother of Jesus sitting outside the tomb accompanied by Mary of Magdala. Such a dichotomy. Mary of Magdala was already entirely saintly, and she was utterly in grief, and her accompaniment of Jesus’ good mom was entirely appreciated. But then, I said, Jesus’ mom and the Magdalene went their own ways to await for the Sabbath to pass. Good thing, said I, as it would be too difficult for Jesus’ mom to contain her… joy…
- Think of it this way (1): Jesus’ mom was in perfect solidarity with her Son. This did not change when Jesus died. Mary rejoiced in her Son’s victory over all of hell broken out on Calvary: her son stayed on the Cross, did not come down. Jesus, her Son, conquered. Sure, it was difficult to see Him in battle. But now He is eternally victorious. This is cause for rejoicing.
- Think of it this way (2): As we say in the creed, when Jesus died, he descended into hell. We read:
- ἐν ᾧ καὶ τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν πορευθεὶς ἐκήρυξεν, (1 Peter 3:19) – In [His spirit] He went about proclaiming to the [obviously fallen] spirits in prison.
- Καὶ ὅταν τελεσθῇ τὰ χίλια ἔτη, λυθήσεται ὁ Σατανᾶς ἐκ τῆς φυλακῆς αὐτοῦ (Apocalypse 20:7) – And when the thousand years are completed, Satan [obviously a fallen spirit] will be released from his prison.
There were fallen angelic spirits and fallen human spirits in the time of Noah (to which Peter refers). The flood was a punishment for such disobedience to the will of God. The disbelievers during the building of the ark are especially the fallen angelic spirits. When Jesus goes to proclaim to them… what is He proclaiming? This proclamation is not necessarily any evangelizing for conversion, but rather proclaiming victory over all of hell that had been broken out on Calvary, over our sin, over death, by His death, by His innocence, by His carrying heaven within Himself.
In hell, in that prison, Jesus is delivering His victory speech, which will in eternity for the fallen spirits the source of eternal spiritual and intellectual frustration, having Satan proceed in writhing in all writhingness, the curse in Genesis, the punishment for those to be in that hell for eternity, even if loosed for a moment before the second coming of Jesus.
Immaculate Mary, having witnessed all hell broken out on Calvary, having seen her Son be victorious by NOT coming down from the Cross, she knew exactly, immediately, what He was doing in those three dark days. And she rejoiced: “That’s my good Son, Jesus, who’s doing that!” Meanwhile, she’s still catastrophically traumatized, yet joyful in her Son’s victory, joyful that the fallen angelic spirits are getting a good tongue lashing that will be their hell for eternity.
How could she tell Mary of Magdala about this. Jesus would let her know about His victory first thing Easter morning. If it is Mary of Magdala that Jesus meets first, it is not because He is ignoring His mother. She was always in perfect solidarity with Him, knowing what He was doing, her Immaculate Heart ever close to His Sacred Heart.
And with that, “my” Good Friday, as it were, is no longer about me — It’s so dark for me… so sad for me… so heavy for me… how do I distract myself? — No, no. Now it’s about rejoicing to be with Mary in solidarity with her Son, rejoicing in His great victory.
Easter is glorious, yes! But the greatest glory — glory unto glory — of God’s Love in Truth is witnessed in all the darkness and sadness of Calvary, but only in solidarity with Mary, with Jesus, rejoicing in the victory over all of hell!
Now when I look at Mary holding Jesus under the cross, having received the forgiveness of her Son at her intercession, it is no longer a question as to whether I am with her, with Him by the grace of redemption and please God salvation, what I see is an invitation to be in solidarity with her, with Jesus, as He goes to make His victory speech in hell, but wanting the fallen human spirits in this world to join with Mary, to join with Jesus in the victory, jumping for joy as Satan is put in his place. Yes!
So, flowers for you, Immaculate Mother, even while you are catastrophically traumatized.
For those fallen human spirits yet in this world, for their conversion: Hail Mary…