Yan's Corner - In Touch

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday

A young friend wished me Happy Good Friday last night through the mail. I was quick to respond to him that we don’t normally wish people “Happy Good Friday”. But, we can wish people “Happy Easter”.

I responded immediately because I was much elder than him and did not wish that he went to wish other people “Happy Good Friday” also and might be laughed at.

Good Friday is not a public holiday in Kuala Lumpur. I am here on an official trip. Therefore when friends from Sarawak called this morning saying that they were not working today, I asked whether they were on leave. I was of course reminded that it’s Good Friday and a public holiday.

I did a google search on why it is called “Good Friday” and click on "I'm feeling lucky" just now and to my delight, I was directed to this site www.KenCollins.com and found the following:

Calling the day of the Crucifixion ‘Good’ Friday is a designation that is peculiar to the English language. In German, for example, it is called Karfreitag. The Kar part is an obsolete word, the ancestor of the English word care in the sense of cares and woes, and it meant mourning. So in German, it is Mourning Friday. And that is what the disciples did on that day—they mourned. They thought all was lost.

I’ve read that the word good used to have a secondary meaning of holy, but I can’t trace that back in my etymological dictionary. There are a number of cases in set phrases where the words God and good got switched around because of their similarity. One case was the phrase God be with you, which today is just good-bye. So perhaps Good Friday was originally God’s Friday. But I think we call it Good Friday because, in pious retrospect, all that tragedy brought about the greatest good there could be.

I can see virtue in either terminology. If we call it Mourning Friday, as in German, we are facing reality head on, taking up the cross if you will, fully conscious that the Christian walk is seldom a walk in the park. But if we call it Good Friday, as in English, we are confessing the Christian hope that no tragedy—not even death—can overwhelm God’s providence, love, and grace. Either way seems fine to me!

Yes, why should we despair on Good Friday when there is hope in Him, and when there is the greatest good there could be?

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