Pope Francis offered a message of hope during his Good Friday message.

“May the hearts of those who have enough be open to filling the empty hands of those who do not have the bare necessities.”

“This year we are experiencing, more than ever, the great silence of Holy Saturday. We can imagine ourselves in the position of the women on that day. They, like us, had before their eyes the drama of suffering, of an unexpected tragedy that happened all too suddenly. They had seen death, and it weighed on their hearts.”

For the past twenty-four hours, I haven’t been feeling the love. It’s been rough.

A lot of weird or strange events occur to me on Good Friday. Good Friday 1996, I was told by doctors that I would not live past 50. I was fired on Good Friday 2010. Yesterday, I learned a coworker hangs on in an ICU, battling against Coronavirus. And today, a friend texted that a mutual business acquaintance (I’ll call Jim), age 54, died from Coronavirus on Good Friday. 

I worked with Jim from 2006 through 2010. He wasn’t the type of guy I would pour my heart out to over a beer, but for every week for four years, we would meet at an old church converted into a coffee shop. It was a remarkable escape. Over latte’s, coffee, bagel, or sandwich, we’d joke, tell stories and strategize about one project or another. We laugh about doctors – the ones who couldn’t tell time or appeared to lack a lot of real-world common sense, but the same doctor you’d trust your life to navigate the brain during ten-hour neurosurgery.

Jim was a master of human communication. He was always in the know. Freely admitting he knew little of the finer points computer technology, he knew everyone. And that’s what made him valuable. If a project was in jeopardy, he knew who to contact, where to go, and what political lever to push. Jim once said, “All projects would be easy if we eliminate the people.” Jim was all about politics. 

He was a gregarious man with a happy life. However, when speaking with strangers, he would identify the most successful person avoiding the “biggest” talker. Reason: The ability to keep quiet and listen to what others have to say is a common and critical trait. He found importance in the unsaid. 

In the story of the cross, we discover God’s message of hope. When one of the two men who hung next to Jesus comes to terms with his guilt, he asks Jesus to remember him in His kingdom. Jesus offers these redeeming words, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” 

I am going to hold God’s goodness to that commitment. Because right now, I feel pain. Jim shouldn’t be dead. But he is. And while I compare myself more to one of the two hanging next to Christ, I hope one day, our merciful and graceful God will wipe away all our sins, faults, and mistakes and make us whole. 

Most Coronavirus victims will have no public funeral, Jim included. ‘Private to the family,’ I’m told. He’s in good company. Christ was hurriedly buried, without the presence of friends, just a few family members, and two men who weren’t part of his inner circle.

In the Catholic faith, during the next month or so, you’ll heat two phrases: “Peace be with you!” and “Be not afraid!” Remember that we’re all members of the great human family, created in the image of God (Gen. 1:17). The color of our skin, the language we speak, our accents, and our cultures mean little.

If Jim were here, he’d acknowledge that Easter 2020 is subdued. Yet, even with limitations, it’s not all negative. Sure, there are no huge crowds, no early dawn ceremonies, no ‘He has risen galas.’ He would remind us that Easter is more than a yearly one and done event. Every morning is Easter Morning. Every morning is a new opportunity to rise.

Jim’s death weighs heavy on me today. I promise death will not hold its grip forever. Likewise, I presume Jim has already determined who’s who in heaven. Therefore, we can trust Jim to say, “Peace. Be not afraid.”