Good Friday

March 29, 2024

March 29, 2024


March 29, 2024

Good Friday





Throughout today’s readings we hear of human suffering at the hands of others, and God’s ineffable loving. Growing in the mystery of our faith, we come to understand that God’s abundant love neither prevents nor eliminates our suffering. We also come to know that the first breath of life, our very first inhale, will someday lead to our final exhale being claimed by death.

When that happens those who love us will experience grief. There are times when circumstances produce a grief that takes hold of our bones. It changes who we are. This must have been the lived experience of those who loved Jesus and witnessed his agonizing death.

History teaches that those who speak from the margins are targeted to suffer cruelties, and, quite often, to suffer death. Jesus was a man with a target on his back. He was born and lived on the margins of a powerful and oppressive system that placed no value on his life.  

He resisted the dehumanization of this system by recognizing each person as being made in the image and likeness of his beloved Abba, and he acted accordingly. For him, this was God’s law written on his heart, and his life testified to this truth.

Committed to fulfilling God’s law, Jesus honored the dignity of persons simply because of their God-given dignity. It was not because of their temple sacrifices, faith tradition, privilege, wealth, ethnicity, gender, or what they could do for him. In affirming them worthy of God’s loving, he also inevitably disrupted the systems of power and oppression. He knew it. The disciples knew it. Those who loved him knew it. Those who despised him knew it. Those who had only heard of him knew it.

The song “Were You There?” is one of the most moving hymns performed on this day we identify as Good Friday. On occasion, we may hear a performance so soul stirring that it actually does cause us to tremble. The song was composed by people who had experienced traumatic suffering at the hands of others – enslaved African Americans in the 19th century. While the questions may appear rhetorical for us, they invite us to consider and even contemplate the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual suffering Jesus endured immediately preceding his death at the hands of others.

On family car rides, my parents would make a common refrain as we drove past a picturesque landscape filled with massive old trees. Their words remain with me. “If these trees could talk.” The car would fall silent as that was the only response to their solemn tone. I have no memory of asking what they meant. The weight of the silence was palpable. To my young mind, the trees must have witnessed the horrific and unimaginable.

In time I would grow in awareness and understanding before beginning to make the same observation myself. Like genuflecting upon entering a sanctuary, the sentiment unfolds. My parents were referencing the thousands of men, women, children and babies, who had been lynched by white supremacists on this land in the not-too-distant past. This was a way of acknowledging the lives lost through the brutality of man’s inhumanity towards others. The trees had been used as facilitating props. Singing of these trees, Billie Holiday’s performance of “Strange Fruit” does cause me to tremble.

I wonder if Jesus had childhood memories of hearing similar comments from Mary and Joseph as they remembered the cruel and agonizing deaths of those who had been crucified or stoned at the hands of others because of untruths or perceived threats to systems of power and oppression. With six degrees of separation, how many families and friends did they know who bore this unbearable grief?

While there are obvious differences between lynching, stoning, and crucifying, there are strong commonalities. Each was used to protect and ensure the continuance of oppressive and powerful systems. Untruths provided participants with delusions of superiority. These public forms of death were also visible threats and shocking reminders for others not to be troublemakers.

Imagine the shame and humiliation of victims - powerless, stripped, and demonized while also being concerned about what would happen to their loved ones. Consider the fear of being surrounded by a mob thirsty for blood – your blood.  

And now, Jesus is in this place as countless others before and after him. His blood mingles with his sweat and tears as it flows over the length of his body before staining the ground. Those near him hear his labored breathing and weakening cries. They smell his blood as they experience the weight of what they see and hear. The target was captured, stripped, flogged, humiliated, crucified, buried for truth.

First Reading

Is 52:13—53:12


Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-16, 17, 25

Second Reading

Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9


Jn 18:1—19:42
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Leslye Colvin

Leslye Colvin

Leslye Colvin is a writer, spiritual companion, retreat facilitator, and contemplative activist.

Inspired by the tradition of Catholic social teaching, she is passionate about encouraging diversity of thought especially as it relates to those often marginalized within the community. Leslye has extensive experience in promoting the mission and expanding outreach of a variety of sectors including faith-based nonprofits.

Having been published by National Catholic Reporter and U.S. Catholic, she has also been interviewed by America Magazine, U.S. Catholic Magazine, South Africa’s Radio Veritas, and Vatican Radio on the construct of race. Her blog, Leslye’s Labyrinth features writings from her African-American Catholic heart.

Currently in the apprenticeship program of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, Leslye is a graduate of the Living School and the Haden Institute. She holds an M.A. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an undergraduate degree from Xavier University of Louisiana. A native of Alabama, the land of the Muscogee, she resides in Maryland, the land of the Piscataway. Leslye serves on the Boards of FutureChurch, and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.



The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world.  The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.

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