(Writing up thoughts from yesterday, 4/19/2019, Good Friday 2019)
“Good Friday” – why is it good?
Today is Good Friday. This is the day where in Christian belief, Jesus was nailed to the cross and died.
And I wonder, why do we call it Good Friday? This is the day that Jesus was killed. Why is it “good?” Why is not Bad Friday, or maybe Black Friday (well, that one is already taken)? Where does this name come from -- “Good Friday?”
Some people think that it was originally “God Friday,” but that is probably wrong. Most think that it has to do with a more ancient meaning of “good,” that is ‘holy.’ And as I always do, when I try to get a feeling for the hidden meaning of a word, I looked up the history of the word: “good” has an underlying meaning of “bringing together.”
Good Friday is then really intended to be something higher, a holy day, a good day, that brought us together, us with a greater Power, some call it God.
And Jesus did not simply die that day. In Christian believe, he died to take away our sins so that we can have eternal life. Two days later, on Easter Sunday, he rose again, so the story goes.
Thereby, while for Jesus in a human body made of flesh and bones, the Crucifixion was surely a horrible and painful way to die, in Christian belief it is seen as something wondersome for the greater mankind.
He died, because he cared for us. And in some other languages, Good Friday is called “Karfriday,” where Kar comes from the same root that gave us the English word “care.”
So Good Friday, in the act of Jesus dying, is to express His care for us -- willingly giving his life for us, for a greater Good.
So his death was a great sacrifice. And a choice: Jesus chose this.
He chose to be a sacrifice, done willingly, in love for us and a higher power, for the greater good of humankind and spiritual its attainment.
Do humans also choose to die? If so, why?
But maybe there is another lesson in it this. I believe, that we, as “mere” humans, can also learn about something about our own relationship with death, and dying.
For Jesus was not the only one – I am speaking about his human form now – who gave body and life, willingly, for a greater purpose.
It happens all the time, still today, alas for, I would say, the most horrible and wrong reasons. Think of any suicide bomber. Think about the people who flew the airplanes into the World Trade Center. They sacrificed themselves for an ideology! That is sacrifice, too, right there – alas I would think for the wrong reasons. Surely, they believed it would be for the betterment, but… this was not done for any sort of spiritual elevation, but for an ideology of ‘we against them,’ and revenge and anger and whatnot. Not out of love, and feeling oneness with the greater whole and ALL humans. Do you see the difference?
On that same day, 9/11/, thousands others died. They also gave their lives. Or rather, we think, their life was taken, robbed from them. They were victims, we would say.
I understand this very well, because my stepdaughter was murdered, and she was the victim of a violent act. So I have dealt a lot with overcoming her death, dealing with the pain, daily, that we the survivors of such an act feel.
And I have written about it (here). One thing that came out of it was that I learned that the term “victim” once had a completely different sense. Allow me to quote myself:
‘The original meaning of the word “victim” is a "living creature killed and offered as a sacrifice to a deity or supernatural power, or in the performance of a religious rite.”
Thus, the word “victim” was originally tied to “sacrifice”, and “sacrifice” itself originally meant “to do sacred rites.” ‘
And I struggled with the implications. And let me spell it out: the implication of being a human sacrifice.
Because, the other thing that we always hear about in spiritual text is that we have free will and always choose freely at every moment – including our death(s) [Yes, plural, but that is another aspect]. And I struggle with it, because it would mean that, not only Jesus, but also my stepdaughter, and everybody else who died during 9/11, or during world war I and II and wherever and whatnot, that all these people chose their deaths – that is, they sacrificed themselves? Willingly ?
How can that be?
Making and Being the ultimate sacrifice – willingly
And then, I found a different access point. It worked for me, I am not sure if it will for you. Nonetheless I will share it.
You see, before this happened with Heather’s murder, by which I mean my own direct experience as a survivor with a horrible violent death, I always struggled with accounts of human sacrifices, like those we hear about in the story of, say, the Aztecs, where tens of thousands of prisoners were sacrificed at once. I think, maybe, there may be a deeper connection here, possibly from a parallel life thread (you may call it a previous life, I don’t) because I always felt a sense of dread, and I mean a deep dread, whenever I see images of historical artifacts from that time and region.
However, in some of the earliest human sacrifice, there were indeed people who died willingly. Not like those 9/11 bombers out of an ideology, but they went to their own ritual sacrifice, as part of a spiritual celebration, willingly! For example, in some early Mexican cultures, they played a ballgame not unlike our basketball, and the winning team would get sacrificed! Imagine: you play to win , and to win means to give your life – willingly! That is, you believe in a greater power so deeply, that you WANT to be re-united with it, for all its glory. Not out of hate for some other culture, but out of love and spiritual elevation!
So I wrote a little series of articles on this, starting with the ancient city of Teotihuacan in Mexico, because that was a place in my current life where something happened, I got very violently sick, exactly at the spot where they now found the entrance to a cave system that had deep spiritual meaning to the priests, and maybe kings, of those times. And then, I had a dream, a dream that showed the two sides of making the ultimate sacrifice. [And I hesitated to post these, but now with this lead article in place, I have resolved myself that I should do so.]
And I realized– under SOME circumstances, certainly not like the bombing of the trade-center – there was indeed a spiritual view to this. If somebody does it for purely spiritual reasons, without being forced or forcing the “victim,” and done out of love not hate, all the while honoring the process, then, in a way that is so hard for us to understand today, there is almost something sublime to it.
To give and take a life, but doing so willingly by all parties involved, and realizing the ultimate sacrifice is made, for the greater spiritual attainment, then there is an elevation of all.
NOT that I advocate doing this! No, it goes against everything I believe in! There are much better ways. I am just saying, I understand it better .
And today, Good Friday, we talk of something very similar. You see, that is also Jesus, willingly giving his life. To have a death that is a highly spiritual experience, that is part of a greater plan. To die, and to become one again with let’s call it God, and through this death help to elevate humankind. To be united with the greater Being (which to me IS ourselves in another form), and though this, bring out something positive in the world.
That’s why it is Good Friday.
It can also elevate us, the living, too
And what does it mean for us? And here I don’t mean us believing that Jesus took our sin. But no, very humbly, to us the human survivors of a tragedy, of somebody tying tragically, from ill health, or an accident, or a murder… such as the murder of my step daughter ? What, if a greater plan is really at work, and we cannot glimpse it?
I wrote about it other places, but I may as well repeat it here, for it is worth the point.
By starting to see a connection to the sacred, maybe we can indeed glimpse a sense of that greater plan.
I, personally, am learning that if I am able to take the immense pain that I received when Heather died, which I feel daily, and turn it around in sort of like a mental Judo move, it can propel me forward; I use it as a catalyst towards what I consider positive change. For me, this includes writing this blog.
So what I am talking about is re-framing death.
To see something sacred in death, no matter how tragic. And to see an opportunity to allow for positive change. Elevation.
Jesus did so in his death, and did so willingly. Maybe our loved ones did as well? I know, I still struggle with it, too, but I am trying to be open to it.
Namaste — I bow to you and the Divine in you.
Copyright © Hanns-Oskar Porr