Each year we Christians recall the Paschal Mystery of our salvation. We prepare for this during the liturgical season of Lent with fasting, penance, and alms giving. We relfect on our own sinfulness and the need for God’s forgiveness, though we are already aware of His forgiveness to us.
After this preparation we encounter Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday where we recall Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem as the people sang His praises. A few days later, they shouted for His crucifixion. What a turn of events!
Holy Thursday we recall His Last Supper with His apostles where he instituted the Holy Eucharist and ministerial priesthood. Jesus then washed their feet and gave them an example of the service they are to bring to others.
Good Friday, Jesus dies on the cross. That day seemed like a tragedy, a total failure of His preaching and teaching to us. Little did anyone back then understand that it was really the beginning of His saving grace to us.
On the Third Day He rose and showed His apostles that there was no tragedy, no failure, but only victory in that sin and death had been defeated. They saw that Jesus was ALIVE! He promised the Holy Spirit to be with them and guide them on their now commissioned journey of spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Where there was weeping in sorrow, there was now singing in joy! Jesus is ALIVE!
Had there not been a Good Friday, there would be no Easter Sunday. The pain and suffering of that day was necessary for the joy of the Third Day.
As Christians and followers of Jesus Christ, we experience the joy of our salvation on Easter and everyday. Though we are not apart from suffering in this world. We experience it often in many ways. The loss of loved ones. Failed relationships and marriages. Discrimination and injustice. Personal injury to ourselves and those we love. We suffer in seeing others suffer. Yes, we experience real heartfelt pain in this world.
But this world is not the end. This world is only a journey. On this journey of life, we learn to love one another as Jesus commanded. We learn to walk with the Risen Christ among us now so as to be with Him forever in Heaven. We will always have suffering among us and experience it ourselves, but the joy of the Risen Christ dwells in our hearts none the less. With this joy, we overcome the sufferings of this world because Jesus has overcome them.
For as it was necessary for Good Friday to lead to Easter Sunday, so too it is necessary for the sufferings of this world to lead us to eternal life in Heaven. The sufferings of this world are as nothing compared to the world to come! And we look to the world to come because Jesus is ALIVE!