Why Do We Call This Good Friday?

Today is Good Friday, a solemn day when we commemorate the Lord’s Passion and death. But on this day when we remember the sorrow, the pain, the devastation of the crucifixion, you may be wondering: why do we call it good?

Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ, was a guest on The Inner Life® and he offered some insights into why, despite the sorrow, we call this day Good Friday.

“To my knowledge, the term Good Friday is particularly unique to English, because in other languages, at least from what I know, it’s not normally called good,” Fr. Matthew clarified. “And it’s not so clear where that comes from. Is it because good in Germanic languages also is connected to the word for God? Or is it good for theological reasons? I like to look at it for theological reasons.”

Pointing to the Baltimore Catechism, which was once the official national catechism for children in the United States, Fr. Matthew said, “The Baltimore Catechism says that we call it good because it’s the day when Christ showed his great love for man and purchased for him every blessing. So although it is a very sorrowful day (because we remember the great tragedy of sin and the effects of our sin), we also realize that it’s the day that our salvation was secured.”

“It’s the day when we were ransomed from evil and from death and that’s why it’s good,” he continued. “That’s why we hang up crucifixes in every church that we have. It’s not because we’re morbid or we look at this and rejoice in suffering. But instead, because we know that Christ has brought us to salvation through the Cross. And that’s why, even despite the grief, we might feel on a day like today we still know this is Good News that Jesus has revealed to us. And that’s why we call it Good Friday.”

Fr. Matthew also pointed out that it is easier for us on this side of the Resurrection to recognize the good in Good Friday. We know the end of the story. But he encouraged listeners to look at that fact as a challenge, to recognize the gift we have been given, and to live accordingly.

Speaking of that first Good Friday, Fr. Matthew said, “Some of the Church Fathers describe all of Creation holding their breath at this moment in history. Because it wasn’t clear what was going to happen. It wasn’t clear that Jesus, in fact, was going to triumph over death. It seemed, perhaps, the most despairing moment of all of history. But, of course, that’s not what happened. The triumph of the Resurrection will soon be revealed.”

“You and I, we’re so blessed to be on this side of the Resurrection. To be on this side of the fullness of revelation. We should really be trusting more, we should really be responding to God’s grace more. In fact, to me, it’s a responsibility that we have. You and I, we have a much greater responsibility because we know what Jesus’ life was about. We know that there is triumph over sin in our life, and there is forgiveness, and we have to be faithful to that.”

We hope you will join us as we continue to celebrate the Paschal Triduum. Take a look at our special Holy Week and Easter programming, and then tune-in on your local station, at our Holy Week page, on your smart speaker, or on the Relevant Radio App.