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Good Friday: Here’s what it’s all about

Published on 30 March 2018|
2 min read

If you are living in Sabah or Sarawak, Good Friday is a public holiday. But what’s so good about this Friday?

by Tommy Duncan, Carrybeans 

Everyone knows Good Friday to be a day of religious observance for Christians all around the world. Here in Sabah and Sarawak, Christianity (especially Roman Catholicism) is a major religion observed by many locals. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Good Friday is a state holiday here.

But what does it signify, really… and what’s so ‘good’ about it?

Paschal Triduum: Holy Week

Holy Week or Paschal Triduum is the week leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a historical figure Christians believe to be the Son of God. It begins with Palm Sunday (if you spotted many palm branches last Sunday, now you know why) and marks the day Jesus entered Jerusalem.

It is then followed by Maundy Thursday (commemorating the Last Supper), Good Friday (the death of Jesus) before ending on Easter Sunday (resurrection of Jesus). In summary, Holy Week commemorates the final days of Jesus before his crucifixion at Golgotha.

What happened on that fateful day?

According to Christian belief, Jesus went on trial before Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea at the time. Pontius sentenced him to be scourged, and although reluctant eventually sentenced him to death to appease the Jews. This account is reported in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) found in the Bible.

After the flogging, it is recorded that Jesus carried his own cross along the way to Golgotha (meaning ‘place of the skull’ in Aramaic). When he could go no further, Simon of Cyrene was compelled by the Romans to carry it onward.

At Golgotha, Jesus was crucified along with two other criminals.

Fast forward thousands of years later to the 21st century

Today, Christians observe Good Friday through prayers, services and fasting. Customs differ according to various denominations within the Christian faith. Roman Catholics traditionally journey the Way of the Cross and attend a liturgy of the word in the afternoon.

The Way of the Cross or Jalan Salib is a common sight here every Good Friday. Jalan Salib represents the path Jesus took in his final hours as He made His way to Golgotha. The path is based upon the Via Dolorosa, meaning the Way of Suffering, that’s believed to be the actual path Jesus took.


Jalan Salib at Tirig Hill, Telipok / Credit: kEv!n

The Way of the Cross comprises 14 stops known as Stations of the Cross. It can be done inside a church or following an outdoor route. Jalan Salib can be found along some of the famous hiking trails in KK, including Bukit Perahu.

The Christian church believes that Jesus died at around 3pm (the ninth hour), and so a liturgy of word is held. This includes adoration of the cross. On Good Friday, there is no mass.

If you’re observing the day, this is a good film to watch

Have you seen this movie? Directed by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ depicts the events that occurred in the lead-up and on Good Friday all those years ago. For Christians, it’s a simple but meaningful way to commemorate the day and remember what their Lord did for them in His ultimate act of sacrifice.

Have you ever participated in The Way of the Cross at Bukit Perahu, Tamparuli? What was it like? Do enlighten us in the comments below!

A procession of faith is not only confined to the Christian religion, but for the Hindu community as well!

Featured Image Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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