By Rev. Ray E. Atwood Sacred Heart Parish, La Porte City
No greater darkness ever descended on earth than the darkness of Good Friday. In all other wars, good and evil are mixed on both sides. But on Calvary, there was black on one side and white on the other side. Evil was never stronger than on that particular day. The worst thing the devil can do is not bomb cities, slaughter children, and wage war. The worst thing he can do is to kill Goodness itself. That’s what Satan tried to do that darkest of days. But Satan did not kill Goodness that day. Instead, Goodness conquered him through death.
Goodness in the face of evil must suffer because when loves meets sin face to face, it will be crucified. A God who wears the Sacred Heart on His sleeve must be prepared to have criminals persecute Him. But we know that Jesus used suffering to conquer evil. He took anger, hatred, and wrath and said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” He took life and offered it for our salvation. Jesus proved that evil could never be victorious again. Defeated at the moment of its apparent triumph, evil would win battles in the future, but it would always lose the war.
The world has many influential religious leaders. But none are Jesus Christ. Confucius, Buddha, or Mohammed cannot offer a wounded world the gift of salvation. Only Christ, who suffered and died, can do that. Humanitarians cannot heal man’s broken wings. Only Christ who suffered so much for us can do this.
If Christ was only a good man, an ethical teacher, or a great moralist, there is no assurance of salvation or ultimate victory. There is no inspiration for sacrifice. Why offer everything for a mere ethical teacher?
There is no greater inspiration for us to lead selfish lives, to use other persons as means to an end, to than to witness the spectacle of a good man going to death and having no more chance at immortality than the rest of us. But if God can take the worst the world has to offer and defeat it, then who can despair? Who can despair at a momentary defeat? And conversely, who cannot trust when he sees the Risen One with glorious scars on his hands and feet walk triumphantly in the midst of darkness? As St. Paul put it so well, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).