Good Friday 2021

My dear  brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,

Welcome to the Bishop’s Blog!It simply refuses to go away, even in a secular culture. If it was just an idea, an ideology, it could be dismissed as something that has served its purpose for a time. It might have made its contribution to the evolution of thought, to society’s shifting values and perspectives on life, and then inevitably it would have given way to something more acceptable, more in keeping with contemporary sensibilities. But it hasn’t, and it won’t.It is rooted in history more deeply than an ideology. It is something that happened. It involved people not by the exercise of intellectual thought but through the inseparable association with what happened to a known individual.Its greatest failing might be found in the degree to which it is caught up in the lives of its so -called adherents. It becomes tarnished by so many lives gone astray, promises broken, power abused. But then there are lives lived with outstanding selflessness, personal tragedies unexpectedly turned round, real light from real darkness bringing real healing. Some spend their lives trying to get away from it, asking for their names and details to be removed from parish registers, or keeping secret their faith-roots. Others turn to it, discover it as their ultimate lifeline and never look back. These extremes could cancel each other out, leaving a jury undecided.Each year we go back to the source, the life of one person, and the moment that life was completed rather than ended. We are at a particular historic moment on a specific day in a precise location with an identified individual; the afternoon of the first Good Friday, close by the walls of ancient Jerusalem, where Jesus of Nazareth hangs on a Roman cross. There is a small group of witnesses. They note details such as His few short words, His final breath, the reaction of one of the guards, what is done with the body.Normally, when someone dies, there is a period of grief. Those who knew him or her struggle to various degrees to come to terms with their loss. They try to ‘get over it’. Gradually the memory and even the legend fades as facts become more remote. In this case there appears to be something else at work. We live this event not as something remote but as something immediate, relevant to life now. What makes this difference? The difference is ‘hearted’ in who we believe this person to be, Son of God and son of Mary.My thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Diocese in these days of the Sacred Triduum. I am especially mindful of those of you who are experiencing difficulties that seem too much for you to bear. I also thank God for those who are an inspiration and strength and comfort for others.

+Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster