The car radio was on as we drove to the health club yesterday morning. I wasn’t paying much attention to the commercial promoting a big sale, and couldn’t even tell you who the advertiser was. But the closing line caught my attention, telling listeners to “stop in today, and make it a great Good Friday.”

That made me cringe. I immediately thought of the Bible verse about Jesus overturning tables and chasing the moneychangers out of the temple, saying, “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

I wonder what Jesus would say about someone encouraging people to make it a great Good Friday by going shopping and taking advantage of a big sale.

Later, at the health club, I was on a treadmill, with news programs on the overhead televisions. At the end of one interview, the host thanked her guest and closed with, “Have a good Good Friday and a Happy Easter.”

It seems that a lot of people are forgetting – or ignoring – what Good Friday is all about.

For Christians who actively practice their faith, Good Friday is the most solemn day of the entire year. When I was growing up, in addition to following the Lenten rules of fast and abstinence, and doing without candy or whatever else we had given up for Lent on our own, no listening to the radio or watching TV was allowed in our house on Good Friday. And we attended church services that seemed to last all afternoon.

The only “fun” thing about the day, in fact, was that Good Friday was the day we colored Easter eggs. The decorated eggs would then go into my mother’s Easter basket – along with slices of ham and links of kielbasa, plus bread, butter, salt, pepper, and an Easter lamb cake – that would be blessed by our priest on Saturday morning.

I don’t follow all of the traditions and rituals of the Easter weekend as strictly as I did when I was a child, but I still observe the Lenten regulations and my personal acts of sacrifice and prayer. I also still think of Good Friday as the most solemn and somber day of the year, and I’m saddened to see not only people who are trivializing the day’s significance, but merchants who are commercializing it.

Today is Holy Saturday, the in-between day of anticipation that separates Good Friday from Easter Sunday. I will spend part of the day in prayer and reflection, reminding myself of the significance of the Easter holiday. I’ll spend part of the day preparing for the Easter dinner I will make after Mass tomorrow, reminding myself of the customs and traditions I still value and enjoy. And I’ll spend part of the day focusing on the transformation that takes place between the sorrow of Good Friday and the celebration of Easter Sunday, reminding myself that other people’s observation and treatment of the holiday does nothing to diminish my own.

March 31, 2018
©Betty Liedtke, 2018

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