One of the great joys of studying and working at the Faculty of Theology is the opportunity to share our faith, whether it’s during our weekly liturgies, class discussions, impromptu chats springing up in the student lounge or at one of our social events.
As part of our collective Lenten journey, we are sharing seasonal reflections written by students and Faculty as a way to include the broader community in the life of the Faculty. Our Good Friday reflection is written by Fiona Li, who is a second-year ThM student at the Faculty of Theology, studying Feminist Theology. She is finishing her coursework and will be working on her thesis proposal soon. Fiona also has a M.T.S from the Faculty of Theology (2015), and has a H.BA from the University of Toronto, specializing in Christianity and Culture (2013).
One popular question I’ve heard regarding “Good Friday” is around its name: if Jesus died on Good Friday, why is it “good”? Simply put, “Good Friday” is “good” because it is the day that we commemorate the saving action of Christ for all humanity; through His death; “good” came out of it. And this is the message that we, as Christians, have heard: the message of liberation and salvation.
But why wouldn’t people believe what we have heard? One obvious answer is that they simply believe in a different religion, which is fair. But another answer, and I propose that this answer has the greatest implication for us as Christians, is that life in the day-to-day world simply does not reflect this message of salvation. We need not look far from where we are to notice all the signs of injustice, misogyny, oppression, abuse, and hopelessness. Indeed, “who would believe what we have heard?”
Yet, as Christians, we are supposed to be a sign to the world that this Good Friday message is true. Have we fulfilled this call? What have we done to alleviate such sadness in those around us — and also in our distant neighbours? Do we even embody this message anymore? Or did we actually lose our own sense of this message and have lost our identity? If we as Christians don’t believe it, and do not live out this message in our daily lives, then who would be convinced of this message?
As I tell the students in my RCIC class, it is not enough to say “I believe in God” or that “I believe in the Good Friday message”; we have to live and act accordingly. To name a few examples, it means thinking about how my actions affect others. It means having right relations with God, myself, and with all those I encounter and interact with. It means using my privileged position to advocate for justice and mercy. It means working towards the ending of oppression in whatever context it may be. Ultimately, it means mediating the presence of God to those around us, and building up the Kingdom of God here on earth.
As we celebrate Good Friday, let us all remember the Good Friday message of salvation, and our identity as those who are to live out this message in our daily lives and spread it to the world. May this scriptural passage from our first reading be a constant reminder for us, “Who would believe what we have heard?”