Without being heretical, or apostate, Easter is too sanitized, shiny, and hope fulfilled, for those of us who still hang on the cross. This is not the fault of our faith, nor is it the design of our God; rather, it is a byproduct of a society which either runs from suffering, or removes it from their sight. Consequently, for those of us who know the Cross all too well--in chronic illness or long term unemployment or family tragedy or addiction or mental illness or persecution and rejection--Good Friday is our special day of hope.
But how can a day of death and darkness be so hopeful?
"He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. 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." Isaiah 52:13--53:12
I once heard a priest (a very good priest, and a very good man) say that he was disappointed with Godspell because the actor who played Jesus was very short. Similarly, Jesus has been depicted in Hollywood productions as a perfectly handsome man with elegantly flowing hair. Certainly, there is a long history of this in both classical and popular art. Yet, Sacred Scripture, as stated above, says something different.
Good Friday is the good news that Jesus is in solidarity even with the most physically imperfect of His beloved human creatures.
"For all my foes I am an object of reproach, a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends; they who see me abroad flee from me. I am forgotten like the unremembered dead; I am like a dish that is broken." Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25
Just as Jesus isn't solely for the rich, brilliant, beautiful, and talented, He also isn't just for the powerful, socially acceptable, and the superfluously pious. Jesus, especially on Good Friday, is for the addict, the prostitute, the infected, the ugly, the socially shunned, the convict, the conservative, and the traditionalist. Jesus hangs for the walking dead.
Jesus died for those of us who are killed everyday by the prejudices and unforgiving spirit of society that surrounds us.
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin." Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
With all due respect for the Catholic priesthood, an incalculable gift and absolute ecclesial necessity, the only priest we can be assured of who knows our suffering, except in sin, is the beaten, brutalized, marginalized, humiliated, crushed, bruised, broken, and battered Jesus Christ. All disciples of Jesus share in the Common Priesthood through baptism; a few men are chosen by God to be ordained into the ordained-hierarchical priesthood.
But only One Priest Perfectly knows our suffering.
They cried out, 'Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!'” John 18:1--19:42
Ugly ducklings, unforgiven losers, social rejects, infamous converts, and faithful in an unfaithful society, know, with a special intimacy, the Power of the Crucified Christ. We know of His solidarity with our rejection, with our dashed hopes, with our dashed name. Though we know of the Resurrection--at least in faith, in theory, in abstract intellect--we know all the better the Cross, and the true meaning of Jesus' suffering.
And that is why Good Friday is our day.