Ukraine war
Ukraine war - We want world peace!
March 23, 2022
Good Friday in the family service
Good Friday elementary
April 15, 2022

Today we began with the Funeral Matins, an old Dominican tradition. I love this form: on the three days of Easter, in the morning, we sing not only the psalms of the "Lauds" but also those of the "Matins". In addition, there are several long readings, some sung, some read. Many of the texts are laments and revolve around the expulsion of Israel into Babylonian exile, around the hardships under the rule of the Egyptians and Assyrians. Has God abandoned his people? Does he not see their misery? Jesus' cry on the cross, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" is a quote from one of these psalms. When Jesus falls silent on Good Friday, we continue to pray and lament at his tomb.

This tradition includes a large candlestick, which is placed only during these three days. With each psalm, two candles are extinguished, and finally also the altar candles. It gets darker and darker until, at the very end, the electric light is also turned off. The symbolism is clear: we are approaching the death of Jesus, who is the light of the world. When this light dies, nothing can be bright anymore.

This year, our tradition takes on an unexpected and terrible topicality for me. Until now, I found the texts moving, but in the way literature moves you: the misery that is described was 2,500 years ago. This time it is different! At one point, for example, the psalmist accuses God:

"The enemy has completely devastated your sanctuary.
Your enemies made noise in the place of your stronghold,
there they set up their standard.
The ornaments of your house they tore down,
with axe and hammer they smashed everything.
They set fire to your sanctuary,
to the very foundations of thy dwelling they profaned it.
They took upon themselves: We will destroy everything. [...]
And none of us knows how long."

Suddenly the images of Butsha, the ruins of Mariupol and Kharkiv are in front of my eyes. And none of us knows how much longer!

Is this now a consolation that this misery has obviously always existed and always again? Or is it just to despair that mankind does not learn? In any case, it comforts me that I can turn to God with my complaint. Also with my question of "why". I don't get an answer to this question, some suffering is and remains (!) simply without sense.

The message of the Holy Days is not yet the hope of the resurrection. The message of Maundy Thursday is: Jesus does not run away when things get tight. He knows what is coming, he is afraid and desperate. He is lonely and sad to the point of death, because his best friends abandon him. But he does not run away! And whatever suffering befalls a man, he can tell himself that God is and remains with him. Since Jesus voluntarily went to his death, it is clear: no human being is abandoned by God.

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