Aloha Friday Message – November 23, 2018 – Giving thanks for Black Friday

1847AFC112318 – Giving thanks for Black Friday

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   John 18:37 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?*” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
*King in Greek βασιλεύς (basileus) {bas-il-yooce’} – leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king, in certain contexts Emperor.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! You may wonder, “What in the World has happened to that geezer?! Thankful for Black Friday, the day we celebrate Avarice and Lust? No way, Old Man!”

But wait! There’s more! Does that sound familiar? We’ll be hearing that phrase thousands of times over the next month as the $19.95 Super Deals are endlessly advertised on TV. However, that’s not the “more” I’m thinking of. There is more to this weekend that recovering from yesterday’s Holiday meal, more to remember than Pilgrims and turkey and football and stampeding shoppers. Look at our Key Verse for today. Does it remind you of anything, another holiday perhaps? Hopefully you recognize that it is part of the Easter Triduum (not Tridium). It is from the Good Friday readings of Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross. It’s used other times throughout the year as well, and this weekend is one of those times because we are in Cycle B of the Liturgical Calendar. During Cycle A, we read from Matthew 25:31-46, The Judgment of the Nations. During Cycle C, we read from Luke 23:35-43, which gives us the account of Jesus being mocked on the cross and the actions of the repentant criminal.

   This weekend is the end of the Liturgical Year, The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, or more simply The Feast of Christ the King.

Did you know that the Friday of the Triduum – which is called Good Friday in many countries – is also called Black Friday? Good Friday is the middle of the Triduum, the ending of Lent (also a word used only in Western Christianity). The Triduum is a single, albeit long, celebration which starts with the evening service commemorating the Last Supper of Holy Thursday and continues to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

“Good Friday” has other names in other Rites, languages, and Denominations around the world. Why and how did we get that name? There are no clear explanations for it, and it seems that is only the name in English-speaking countries. In the Eastern Rite churches it is called Great and Holy Friday. In German it is called Karfreitag, Suffering Friday or Sorrowful Friday. In some places it is called Easter Friday. In French it is Le Vendredi Saint – Holy Friday. In Spanish is Viernes Santo – also Holy Friday. According to some catechisms, the term Good Friday is a reflection of Christ’s victory over death through his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Christ, by His Death, “showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing.” Good, in this sense, means “holy.” But Black Friday has another, more-Worldly meaning, too.

In the United States, Black Friday is historically associated with the massive economic crisis which began on Friday September 24, 1869 (follow the link for historical insights). It was the collapse of the US Gold Market perpetrated by Jay Gould and James Fisk, Jr. At that time, gold was periodically released from government coffers and sold to help stabilize the post-war economy during the recovery after the Civil War. These rascals bought up as much gold as they could by using “insider information.” When the scheme became known, the President, Ulysses Grant, called for the release of four-million dollars in gold. The price plummeted, there was an economic panic because the Gold Exchange Bank could not cover the huge losses. Stock prices fell 20% over several days – which caused many brokerage firms to bankrupt – and commodities across the board took gigantic losses which affected farming for years and years afterwards. There was another Black Friday during the 1929 Stock Market Crash between October 24-29, 1929 which is historically viewed as a forewarning of the 12-year-long Great Depression.

These days, “Black Friday” is also associated with economic episodes. In the sixties retailers started to refer to the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday because they could count on the Holiday Season sales to take them “out of the red” – an accounting ledger-keeping term meaning operating at a loss – and “into the black” which is an accounting ledger-keeping term meaning operating at a profit. To capitalize on that, merchants began using deeply discounted sales to attract more customers. It didn’t take long for Black Friday to sprout monster-feet and take off! Now “Black Friday Specials” can start a week or even a month ahead of the fourth Friday in November and last for days or weeks! That’s where we see the dehumanizing effects of avarice and lust (See the Lenten Series from 2016 for more information.) That is a very, very worldly example of a Black Friday, and something for which I personally cannot be deeply thankful. I’m glad that businesses can sometimes pull out of a financial red-hole and get “back in the black,” but the sight of frenzied shoppers trampling each other so they can spend their money in a vain attempt to “show their love” for friends and family literally makes me ill. The Black Friday in the Triduum can also sometimes make me ill, but for a very different reason.

When I reflect on the Passion and Crucifixion, I cannot escape the horror, the deep sorrow, the pervasive guilt, and the revulsion over what Christ suffered because of me. I have a part in that suffering, and even in the exultations of the greatest joys in life – the birth of a child, the marriage of a couple, the salvation of a soul, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the magnificence of Jesus’ Resurrection, and so many other joyous occasions – I cannot completely rejoice because the blackness of Black Friday is blackened by me. When I am dealing with a day of pain or heartache or anxiety, my heart will flash upon the image of Christ crucified, and my grumbling and mewling must be silenced; what my body suffers is minuscule by comparison.

Jesus had all the body parts any man has, plus all the feelings, all the susceptibilities, and all the good things in every human life. He just didn’t have sin. But: For you, for me, for us he became sin and died to take all our sins away. And that, perhaps, is what is the most important and most striking about the ways we can identify with him. I did the sin. He did the reparation. Do you remember the song “When He was On the Cross, I Was On His Mind” (↔ Music Link) which was popular around 2007 and earlier? That is another thing we have in common with Jesus. He knows our sins because he paid for every single one of them. He paid-in-full once for all because he loved us that well, well enough for him to lose everything so we could gain everything through his loss. I am grateful for that immeasurable benefit to my life, and – despite the doubts and fears I feel in this present darkness (See Ephesians 6:12) – the realization that he has conquered my death and expiated my sins extinguishes everything negative.

Whenever that happens, the sentiment that follows is Thanksgiving, the brilliantly illuminating understanding that It is Well With My Soul (↔ Music Link) flows into heart, mind, and spirit. How about you, Belovéd? On this Worldly Black Friday, can you take a moment to reflect on the Triduum’s Black Friday and know that this day is only a passing Worldly thing that matters not one whit in comparison to the bliss of “this glorious thought” that we find in Acts 17:28 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’? For me, though it pains me to see it, I will heed the words (and the caveat) in Jeremiah 6:16 16 Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
The caveat is that fewer and fewer souls look for the good way and more and more souls foolishly refuse to walk in it. Remember, Jesus gave us his Peace, and it’s pretty easy to get along in life knowing that. (See Matthew 11:2929 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls – just as Jeremiah prophesied.) And while we’re sharing that attitude of gratitude, I also want to thank those of you who read this little missives (especially the “not-so-little” ones!) for tuning in whenever you can. That’s another source of Thanksgiving in which we can all rejoice.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd! (See you at the Triduum!)

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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