I went to the mall on Good Friday. I can barely own up to it. But I did. I had to run an errand and figured it was the only time I had. Perhaps the guilt came from doing something I never did as a kid on Good Friday. Growing up, we only left the house to attend the Good Friday Liturgy. Sometimes we’d go out for a Lenten meal after the Liturgy at the small fish & chips hole-in-the-wall restaurant “downtown”. Going to the mall, doing groceries, listening to music: these things were simply not part of our Good Friday activities. Good Friday didn’t feel very good. So, I went to the mall less than two hours before heading to church for the celebration of the Passion of the Lord. The place was bursting with eager shoppers, taking advantage of the day off and some of the best sales I’d seen in a long time. I’ll admit it was hard to resist the temptation to pop into my favorite stores. I was surprised to see so many people… and on Good Friday! But then again, I was one of them. Once I finished running my errand, I went back home, dropped my things off, and ran off to St. Michael’s Cathedral for the service. I went to the Cathedral on Good Friday. The pews were filled to capacity and a crowd of people were crammed at the back of the church, having to stand for the whole service. I was one of them. People were flocking to church like they were flocking to the mall. A somewhat humorous comparison which nevertheless brought to mind what Good Friday might have looked like when Jesus was on his way to Golgotha. Some people in the crowd knew very little - if anything - about the man that passed by them bloodied and hurting. There were those who followed him to the foot of the cross and eventually dispersed; there were those who remained in the city and continued about their business. “Why do we call a day filled with evil and violence Good Friday? It is good because we overcome evil with love”. That’s how Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, began his homily. The crucifixion Jesus had to endure was evil. He experienced the betrayal of Judas, the denial of Peter, and the cowardice of Pilate. Today, the world is filled with evil things. He recalled the horrendous attacks on the two Coptic churches last Sunday, and the war being waged on Christianity today. But “today we remember that love conquers violence,” said the Cardinal. It can be easy to forget. Going to the mall on Good Friday wasn’t “bad” or “evil”. It wasn’t necessarily “good” either. But for a short moment, I was treating this Good Friday like any other ordinary Friday, with relative indifference to it until I stepped foot inside the Cathedral. There, I remembered what this day was really for and why, perhaps, it is also good to treat it differently. Instead of being distracted by my own needs and little wants, Good Friday requires more reverence for those who are enduring unimaginable violence, loss, and brokenness. That is good, because Love did in fact conquer evil. How are we going to be signs of that love to others this weekend?
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