We are meditating on the archetype of Good Friday, the death of Rabbi Jesus at the hands of the Roman Empire, and how they instruct our souls in a time of a pandemic. An archetype stirs us from below, from our deepest recesses.
Why is Good Friday an archetype for a time of a global coronavirus pandemic? Some lessons of the Good Friday archetype seem to include the following:
We are all mortal.
“All beings suffer” (as the Buddhists remind us)—even the just and the innocent.
Empires cannot be trusted.
Life itself can seem unjust from our perspective for the young ought not to die young.
It often seems to us that the just should not have to suffer.
But we all do suffer, young and old, known and unknown.
Death and the possibility of death can make us afraid.
But death does not have the last word.
Life is about more than shopping.
Life is about more than playing the stock market (which is another way of shopping—i.e. shopping to make more money on one’s money).
Life is precious as well as precarious.
Life itself cannot be taken for granted.
Life is more important than a “Gross National Product” and maybe our post-coronavirus economics should begin with Life’s preciousness and that of the community rather than a compulsive rush after an ever bigger GNP.
Grieving is a part of life.
Grieving is a necessary part of growing one’s soul—of dying before we die—and living in the real world and being real.
Grieving includes anger and outrage which must be attended to.
Grieving includes moving beyond denial.
Grieving frees the soul.
Suffering (as well as joy) unites us all as human beings and indeed unites all creatures.
“All beings suffer” as Buddhism teaches and as the cross teaches.
Life trumps suffering (or as Rabbi Zalman Schactner used to say, “there is more good than evil in the world but not by much”).
Therefore be on the look out for good. Be a hunter-gatherer for good.
“When your heart breaks, the whole universe can break through,” advises Buddhist teacher Joanna Macy.
Heartbreak and grief open us up and enlarge the soul.
We die many times before we die. Get used to it. Learn to Let Go.
Love and suffering are often united—one pays a price for loving which is often (not always) unrequited. And that is okay.
“The seed must die for the plant to grow.” (Jesus)
“If you want the kernel you must break the shell.” (Eckhart)
Forgiveness is in order. That breaks the cycle of hatred.
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Jesus)
“You must love something more than the fear of death if you are going to live.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Queries for Contemplation
Be with these lessons of Good Friday. Let them wash over you and through you.
What other lessons from the Good Friday archetype can you name?
What further lessons do you take from being with the archetype of Good Friday and the cruel death of Jesus on a cross?
Bruce Chilton investigates the Easter event of Jesus in Resurrection Logic. He undertakes his close reading of the New Testament texts without privileging the exact nature of the resurrection, but rather begins by situating his study of the resurrection in the context of Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Syrian conceptions of the afterlife. He then identifies Jewish monotheistic affirmations of bodily resurrection in the Second Temple period as the most immediate context for early Christian claims. Chilton surveys first-generation accounts of Jesus’ resurrection and finds a pluriform–and even at times seemingly contradictory–range of testimony from Jesus’ first followers. This diversity, as Chilton demonstrates, prompted early Christianity to interpret the resurrection traditions by means of prophecy and coordinated narrative.