By Katie Roden
Good Friday is a beautiful time to reflect on the suffering and agony of our Lord. It is a time to ponder His endless and merciful ocean of love that he pours out upon us for the forgiveness of our sins. For so many years, I had reflected on Good Friday through the lens of sin. I saw the crucifix as a reminder of how horrible the human race is and how we mock Jesus on the cross every time we turn from Him and say we would rather choose the instant gratification of the world. Honestly, I saw the cross as the worst moment in human history. While the crucifixion is utterly awful, there’s more to the story than just the darkness. Jesus wants us to see the invitation He is giving us through the cross that extends to all of His beloved.
As I was beginning my journey with the Lord in college, I was naive in the fact that living the Christian life is actually difficult. The transition from the life I had been living to a life with Christ was a constant tug of war in my heart and mind. I continued to get trapped in this realm between who I was with my Catholic friends and who I was with my other friends. This struggle led to the whisper of the persistent lie that I wasn't enough and I was a fake. How could Jesus ever love such a sinner as me? I let this lie dwell within me and it only led my heart to more wounds and more pain. I got to the point where I decided that something needed to change, but my stubborn heart decided it wasn't going to be me.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was not going to let his little sheep slip away so easily. One night, I ventured alone to a chapel. I knelt before the Lord in front of him in the blessed tabernacle, and I finally had my moment of complete vulnerability with Him. I cried out to him that I didn't feel like I was ever enough, that He didn't even desire me and I was ready to just be done. He asked me to look up and right above the tabernacle, there was a huge crucifix hanging.
He said, "Do you see me on this cross? Don't you know I did this for you? Don't you know that I conquered death because I have prepared a place for you? There is a dwelling place in Heaven that I have prepared for you and without you, it will remain empty. Will you let me lead you?"
At that moment, a shift began in my heart. I realized that I had been seeing Jesus through the broken lens of a cruel judge who only counts the failures and falls. Jesus renewed my sight that night to see Him as the bridegroom, who out of complete and perfect love, gave His entire life for me. That night, I gave Him permission to take me on the journey of renewing, reviving and transforming my heart to His.
As Good Friday approaches and you begin to intentionally reflect on the crucifixion, I believe the Lord is calling us to see the reason behind why He went through the suffering. Yes, He suffered death on the cross to save the whole world. But, He wants you to know that He did it specifically for you. While He endured the cross, He knew that the joy of having you in Heaven with Him didn't come close to the pain of the cross. What wondrous love is this?!
The beauty of the Crucifix is that it displays the moment that Jesus proclaimed His yes to you.
"You, my son, and you, my daughter, are worth every ounce of blood, every ounce of pain and every tear shed. This is my eternal yes to you, which is not and never will be conditional."
When you approach the cross at Good Friday, come to the altar as a bride that walks down to meet her groom. Be prepared to say your yes in return to your heavenly bridegroom and wait in anticipation for the resurrected joy He will proclaim in your life after you have endured the cross with Him.