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Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Pune.

As always Good Friday will be observed all over the world by the two billion Christians with devotion, piety and hope. Along with Christmas, Good Friday is the best observed event among Christians across the globe. The most common question curiously asked by all both Christians and others is why it is  called Good Friday. Jesus was most cruelly treated, humiliated, stripped, beaten, maligned and crucified with utmost hatred and venom. So understandably   it is difficult for us humans to appreciate it as Good Friday. The Christians believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was his total sacrifice for the wellbeing, fulfilment and salvation of mankind. This was a divine act of mercy and forgiveness. Therefore consistently the day on which Jesus was martyred is proclaimed as GOOD FRIDAY.

Good Friday is simultaneously  a manifestation of human cruelty at its worst and divine mercy at its utmost.

At the trial of Jesus the judge Pilate declared, “ I see no guilt in this man.” Even so he capitulated to the vociferous demand of the mob to crucify Jesus  and then went and washed his hands to  symbolically express his innocence. Pilate was not a coward but a ruthless administrator who was a self-centred, ambitious careerist. To ensure his own position he sacrificed the innocent blood of Jesus Christ.

Unless a human being mends his ways, admits to his own guilt and repents, his own evil deeds will catch up with him, no matter how highly positioned. It is therefore no surprise that the guilty judge later committed suicide. History is replete with such examples.

Jesus called the merciless treatment meted out to Him “an hour of darkness.” Jesus’ crucifixion was due to the convergence of authorities civil, political and religious ,local and Roman who all in an unholy alliance  ensured the most cruel, degrading and ignominious  elimination of Jesus. It  was so unbearable that the most committed and prepared Jesus  could not but utter the painful cry of, “ My Father, why have you forsaken me?” It was suffering at its most intense. What happened on the cross was in total contrast to what Jesus wanted and proclaimed. The cross represents the very antithesis of what Jesus was striving to bring about.

What, however, is enlightening is that Jesus called the hour of the cross the hour of His glory. Because the cross represents both human and divine goodness at its best. Jesus called the perfidious Judas who betrayed him to his enemies by a deceptive kiss “Friend”. Jesus did not regard Judas as his enemy though Judas Himself and so many others treated him as an enemy. For Jesus nobody was an enemy to be discarded and wiped out but a friend to be transformed and given a new lease of life. In this sense Jesus was an ajatashatru, i.e. for him there was no  enemy. This was most poignantly and most eloquently as well shown when Jesus said on the cross , “Father, forgive them.” Indeed the death of Jesus  which was an hour of darkness was the hour of light, glory and goodness at its best. Let us therefore on this Good Friday resolve not be overcome by evil but to face evil with goodness, truthfulness and forgiveness.