OPINION: What's good about 'Good Friday'? Lenten thoughts

Buddy Gomez

Posted at Apr 13 2017 11:31 PM

It is the day when Jesus Christ was crucified! A bloody day that changed the world. Why call it Good?

Perhaps a little peep back into our cathechism is called for.  But you will have to do it yourself along with some fasting and abstinence, even if only to make this Friday a truly good one for yourself. When else are you given a day off just go on diet! That has got to be the least good! The search for goodness in one’s Good Friday experience is personal. It must continue as a yearly ritual.

Both State and Church have officially set this day aside and sanctioned it for contemplation, meditation and reflections. Whatever for but for the life of Jesus Christ. At least for a choice and better part of the day. What better time. Then, that can only be good! More than Christmas and the Holidaying season, Good Friday is for spiritual rejuvenation. The many who behave as though the Day is exclusively meant for playful vacations miss the intended spiritual goodness and that is not good!

For about a third of the world’s population, Good Friday is  supposed to be marked devotedly to commemorate the sacrifice, the betrayal, martyrdom, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Throw in the kiss of Judas in, as a prelude to arrest and the public trial and humiliation of an innocent reformist. 
If throughout the year, one has been remiss in caring for his soul, then let flash even for a moment before your mind’s eye, the life of Christ, his humility and his love for humanity. To remember and venerate the day when one man’s sacrifice, martyrdom and death changed the world, that can only be good!

The Seven Last Words -- Siete Palabras

A highlight of the Filipino cultural observation of Holy Week, the Semana Santa, is the usual kilometric sermons that dwell upon the last moments of Jesus Christ delivered by a relay of prelates. These happen in the churches after the noon hour, coinciding with the Gospel description of the crucifixion. Within the religious community, there even evolves a seeming competition over who can deliver the best sacerdotal bombast, the most heart rending and tear jerking metaphoric interpretations of the last agonizing moments of the Christ, referencing these, of course, with contemporary sinfulness in Philippine life, an attempt to capture relevance.

Not just sermons but interpretative essays, even books have proliferated over the years the world over. The Siete Palabras becomes the culmination of traditional observances most voluble of which is the  “Pabasa,” a communal recitation of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For easy references, here they are, ready for your personal, individual reflection and interpretation:

One: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); 

Two: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43); 

Three: “Woman, behold your Son: Behold your mother” (John 19:26-27); 

Four: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34); 

Five: “I thirst” (John 19:28); 

Six: “It is finished” (John 19:30); and 

Seven: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46).

For additional notes on Philippine cultural Lenten trivia, please enjoy what follows: Some random lenten notes

The First Good Friday 

If what all Filipino students were  taught about the first Christian/Catholic Mass as “recorded”  to have occurred at Limasawa on Easter Sunday - March 31, 1521 (Julian calendar), where were Magellan, Pigafetta et al three days earlier, on Good Fiday? 

Please note that we cite the event as “recorded” because there is evidence that earlier Masses on what is now Philippine soil would have been observed and celebrated before Limasawa! Between Homonhon (March 16, a Saturday) and ‘recorded’  “First Mass” at Limasawa (March 31) there were two Sundays: March 17 and March 24 which was Palm Sunday. Would there have been no Masses observed on those two Sundays?

Tracking down Pigafetta’s memoirs, it appears that on Good Friday in 1521 which  was March 29,  the party had just sailed to Limasawa. That  first Good Friday was the first meeting between Magellan and the local chieftain, Kolambu.  

Folks, if you fancy some more of this unresolved historical puzzlement, please find the time for the following:Pope Francis coming back? 

What are you reading on Good Friday? 

A little religious edification will certainly not hurt. With a little more Good Friday down time on your hands, here is a well-researched insight into the changing landscape of religion in the world: The Changing Global Religious Landscape  


In respect for the people’s observance of the Holy Week, especially of Good Friday, we have intentionally abstained from political critique no matter how relevant and merited these would have been. Besides, patriotic protocol requires behavioral propriety when the elected leader of the country is travelling officially abroad, whether he is on a junket or on a foreign mission. No brickbats! We simply, sincerely  wish President Duterte success in his Arabian swing. We wish him more in substance and much less in show!

Come Sunday, back to normal. As we suffer and interpret the events, we fervently wish that we may never have to  doubt Divine Wisdom and ask: “Why have You forsaken the Philippines?”  After all, Resurrection, Reform and Reconstruction are all in our hands!

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.