My family attended a Good Friday service last night and before it started my youngest son asked me, “Why is it called Good Friday when it was such a sad day?”
It was a sad day and as we listened to the accounts of Jesus’ last day, I found myself thinking of Mary. Trying to empathize with her as a mother is heartbreaking. She had given birth to Jesus, nursed him, taken care of him as a child and watched him grow into the man that she had been told by angels that he would become.
Imagine the fear and helplessness that Mary felt as she watched the horror of her son’s death unfold. The overwhelming desire to want to protect him from the emotional and physical pain that he endured.
The disciple John was at the cross and recorded the scene as Jesus commits Mary into the disciple’s care: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27).
This tender moment between mother and son is painful and beautiful at the same time. I had the opportunity to see Michaelangelos Pieta in Rome and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sculpture.
In the statue, Mary is holding Jesus in her lap as she had done so many times when he was younger. She was no longer able to protect him, but must have been full of pride.
I imagine the darkness that consumed Mary for the next two days as she tried to make sense of what had happened….guilt, sadness, anger, loss. I imagine the conversations that she had with God.
And then there was joy on that third day. As Mary realized that Jesus’ sacrifice, her sacrifice, was for all of us. The day when everything made sense- the reason we call it Good Friday.