As Christians prepare to celebrate Good Friday our Jewish brothers and sisters prepare to celebrate Passover. It is not often that Good Friday and the first night of the eight-day Jewish festival are celebrated on the same day. The rare convergence of the observances is a reminder of how the religious traditions are linked.
Passover, which celebrates the Israelites’ Exodus from slavery in Egypt, also played a role in the last days of Jesus. Like many Jews of his time, Jesus participated in the annual Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was while he celebrated the festival that, according to biblical accounts, Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers; Good Friday is the Christian holy day marking his crucifixion and death. On Good Friday we commemorate the day that Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it led to his resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.
As we celebrate Good Friday and Passover let us remember the words of Pope Francis – “On Good Friday we will meditate on the mystery of Christ’s death and we will adore the Cross.” During the last instants of his life, “before handing over the spirit” – he said – Jesus said “it is finished” (John 19, 30), meaning – the Pope explained – that Salvation has taken place; “that with his sacrifice Jesus has transformed the greatest injustice into the greatest love.”
By his sacrifice – Francis said - sin has been overcome through love, an immense love which we are called to live and transmit. Throughout the centuries – he continued – many men and women have borne witness to this perfect, uncontaminated love, with their very existence. Let us live each day with this kind of love for one another.