A really good person

Worshippers wave palm fronds in front of a crucifix during Palm Sunday Mass on March 25 in Manila, the Philippines. (CNS / Reuters / Romeo Ranoco)

A friend and I were chatting over lunch. We had emailed regularly but hadn't had the chance to get together in person frequently despite us living in the same city. Connecting for lunch was a welcome treat for both of us.

We traversed several conversation topics, which included sports, the weather, online shopping and Easter break. How did Easter roll around so quickly? we asked ourselves. Wasn't it just Christmas? Why, yes, it was — but months ago now.

She had liturgical minister duties at her parish that prioritized her days during Holy Week. She is such a generous and giving person; the parish volunteers are very fortunate to be working with her.

Somehow, we got on the topic of Good Friday.

"Did you ever wonder why it's called 'good'? I mean, isn't that a strange term for such a devastating day?"

I finished a bite then responded, "I think that it's been called Good Friday forever, so the word 'good' must have some other entomological origin. The word 'good' we use today must have some other meaning."

She scrunched her face in a leave-it-to-the-professor way and said, "Well, maybe so. You're more of a brainiac than I am. But I really think it's simpler than that."

I held my fork and said, "Simpler than a meaning of 'good'? Sing, bird, sing."

She went on, "Yes, I think it's simpler. Now, think carefully about Good Friday, what it's all about and what we celebrate. This is THE day in the entire year that led to the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over sin and death. Nothing else culminates in Easter, which is the mountaintop experience of all Christians."

I said, "Yes, that's true, and that makes sense."

She continued, "So on Good Friday, all was not lost. Christ did for us what we couldn't do for ourselves. He was so good to sacrifice himself just for us. It takes a good person to do that — a really, really good person. So just think — we're the beneficiaries."

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). Does our goodness measure up?

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]

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