There was nothing good about the first Good Friday. We now call it “good” only because we’ve read the “spoilers” about the happy ending.
But that’s not how it was for the first disciples. Or for Jesus. (Or for us in real life). They thought that Friday was the end. Total catastrophe. Public humiliation. Crushing betrayal. Shattered hopes. Excruciating pain. Utter failure.
Neither Jesus nor his followers thought it would end this way: All of his work for the Reign of God. For the inclusive welcome of the outcast and the stranger. For the radical message of abundant mercy for all without exception. It wasn’t supposed to end in spectacular, public, crushing defeat.
There was nothing good about that first Good Friday.
I think of this as I remember when I thought, when I still sometimes think, that my work for racial justice and sexual inclusion is for nothing. I don’t recall the specific catalyst, but I remember when I poured out my frustration and pain—my heartbreak at the rejection I felt from my bishop and some fellow priests—to my spiritual director. She listened patiently and compassionately. And then softly asked,“How much is your integrity worth to you?”
The question seared me. It’s become implanted deep within my soul. It keeps me going when I see no positive outcome for my efforts, when hostile emails flood my inbox, when accusations of “disturbing the faithful” and “causing division” follow from my advocacy. My integrity gives me no other choice. Taking an easier path would do violence to who I am—a price I am unwilling to pay.
I believe that conviction sustained Jesus during that first Good Friday before it became “good.” He could act in no other way without betraying himself. The cross is the price of integrity.
- In what parts of your life is God asking, “How much is your integrity worth to you?”
Fr. Bryan Massingale is a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University in New York. His work focuses on the intersections of race, sexuality, and faith. He is the author of Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. An award-winning author and teacher, he lectures on social justice both nationally and internationally, and was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice.
El P. Bryan Massingale es profesor de ética social y teológica en la Universidad de Fordham en Nueva York. Su investigación se centra en la relación entre raza, sexualidad y fe. Es autor del libro Racial Justice and the Catholic Church.