By Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH
Is 52:13-53; Ps 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25: Heb 4:14-16; Jn 18:1-19:42
Good Friday. Five brief days from the glory of Palm Sunday when Jesus entered into Jerusalem amidst cries of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…Hosanna in the highest.” Today, in the Gospel of John, we hear the crowd cry, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!” How quickly life can change.
“Were you there when they crucified my Lord,” goes the hymn. Our readings for Good Friday speak of some of those who were there and of some who foretold the happenings of this day regarding Jesus the Lord, the suffering servant.
Jesus, the one who says, “…learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt 11:29) St. Paul writes, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 9-10) What does it mean to believe that when we are weak we are strong? How are we challenged to be followers of this suffering servant? Where in our world today do we see the Cross of Christ—the one who “was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hid their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.” (Is 53:3-4) We might pause and call to mind those we hesitate to look upon…who did we pass by today? Who is it in our world we consider weak or when are those times we become discouraged by our own weakness?
Perhaps a guide for this day can be Mary, the mother of Jesus. Can’t you almost hear her speaking to us in the following worlds by Robert Browning Hamilton: “I walked a mile with Sorrow, and never a word said she; but, oh, the things I learned from her when Sorrow walked with me?”
Not too many days ago we celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of God. As she pondered this happening in her heart did she have any idea of where that “Yes” would lead her? Mary gives witness to “love as a verb.” To hold in heart and prayer the pain of a loved one is no passive act. Oftentimes, it has been my realization of how very little I can do for another in their pain that allows me to surrender to the need to do something. It is then that I am able to give myself over to simply being with another in their sorrow.
Have you sat with a friend or loved one experiencing the betrayal of divorce…the death of a child, a spouse, a sibling, a parent? Perhaps it was when you were waiting with someone in the doctor’s office or emergency room of a hospital. Have you tried to reach out to someone hurting? Mary stood by and stood with Jesus and his friends knowing the deep sorrow of powerlessness, while remaining faithful to her “Yes” to the mystery of God.
We know that Good Friday and the Cross are not the final answer, yet endure our crosses we must if we are to rise to new life. Look to Jesus, the one who shows us the Way, who is our Truth and our Life. (Jn 14:6). In his weakness is our glory!