Good Friday Moonlight Sonata

From the Homily on Good Friday 2018

Behold a beautifully tragic proposition of our Catholic faith: in suffering and even evil, beauty and good are to be found. “At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon (Mk 15:33).” This Friday is ugly: mankind at our worst. And yet this Friday is beautiful. God died for love of us and mankind was restored.

We all suffer, like Christ, and that suffering is good. Think of something painful that is beautiful. Think of, for instance, the piano piece the Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. The moon, like the sun, is beautiful and luminous. In fact, we will sing this tomorrow in the dark church during the Exsultet: The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

The piece is heavy. On and on the minor cadences roll. Beethoven, as you all know, was cursed with deafness. Tragedy! A man who produced the most beautiful music mankind would ever know was unable to hear it! And yet without his deafness, his suffering really, we may not have had the music. The Moonlight Sonata is a lamentation, almost a dirge, and yet it is beautiful and light—a classic.

Now, I could further explain the phenomenon of suffering. But let us listen to...better, let us pray with the Moonlight Sonata. Music, like poetry, can illuminate a mystery better than words. Music reaches the heart, and that is ultimately where we must be—not the mind—to truly appropriate a truth. May we believe that evil can be made good and that the pain in our lives and the pain in our world, roll out of Christ's pain like the triplets on the keyboard.


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