As I was walking to the back of the church last night before our Holy Thursday mass I was stopped by one of my favorite little kids. Eight year-old Ben needed to ask me the question that was on his mind all day. "So why do we call tomorrow Good Friday if it is the day that Jesus died on the cross? Killing Jesus was not good!"
Great question. And they usually come to me as I am moving too fast. Seems to be God’s way of slowing me down…of causing me to pause. And based on the size of Ben's big eyes, for him, this was a serious question.
But which answer to give him?
Perhaps the standard answer. That we call this Friday 'good' as in ‘holy.’ It comes from the 13th century Middle English as it relates to holy days in the church. The Oxford dictionary puts the reference under "good" as: a) Pious, devout. b) Tending to spiritual edification: spec. the Bible. c) of a day or season observed as holy by an orthodox "Christian" church.
Or I could have gone with the secondary answer whereby the name may be derived from 'God's Friday,' in the same way that good-bye is derived from ‘God be with ye’.
Instead I got down to Ben’s eye level and told him that we call this day ‘good’ because although Christ died on this day – three days later he rose from the dead. He showed us what good things can come to us when bad things happen. That Christ is and was forever with us – always loving us...even on our dark days.
For we remember on this day that each of the crosses that we all bear carry a seed of resurrection...that our dying leads to eternal life.
And for me, that is the real good news on Good Friday.