Good Friday: “Stand By Me…”

March 29, 2024 | Fr. Stephen Thorne | Today’s Readings

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.” (John 19:25)


The year was 1961 when Ben E. King first released the song, “Stand By Me.” It is considered a classic and has been remade by various artists and sung at various occasions. You may recall the words…

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see

No I won’t be afraid
Oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

So darling, darling
Stand by me, oh stand by me
Oh stand, stand by me

Stand by me

But the words of the song “Stand By Me” can also help us to reflect on Good Friday. Good Friday is a quiet day and affords us time to reflect on God’s love and how it is expressed in Christ Jesus. Good Friday is a day of fasting so we can hunger, not just for food, but for the Word of Life. On Good Friday, the Church always proclaims the Passion of our Lord according to John.

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom He loved He said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19, 25-27)

As Jesus was being crucified for our sins, many ran away and abandoned Him at this moment of pain and suffering. Yet, His Mother, John, and the women stood by Jesus at the Cross. This scene challenges us in our relationships, especially with those who are suffering today. Do we stand by them? If so, how do we do that? 

Our ministry at the Catholic Mobilizing Network invites us to stand by people who are in the struggle. We pray, but we also work for justice. We are people of faith who contemplate the Catholic call to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A few years ago, I spent Christmas afternoon visiting a friend who was in prison. It was a painful moment. I knew as a priest, but more importantly, as a human being, that was where I needed to be. As Pope Francis often reminds us, we are called to be Missionary Disciples who go out to those who are broken and who are in need of the Gospel.

Let us be inspired this Good Friday to stand by those who are in need of justice. With our words, but also our actions, let us defend all human life and cry out for criminal justice reform, always with hope and joy.