Yesterday I reflected briefly on how these Paschal Liturgies are different this year. Where is everyone? I could not help but think, today, Good Friday, perhaps may not be all that different than the first Good Friday – surely, people were gathered on the hill of Calvary that day but many of them bystanders, onlookers, scorners, and the ones who crucified Him. The only faithful we are told were just a handful – St. John, the Blessed Mother … much like today, in our church there are just a few faithful gathered for this Good Friday liturgy. It seems as though Jesus has been abandoned yet again.
The word ‘abandon’ means to cease to support, to desert someone or to give up. Why did so many abandon Him? Why were there only a few that stayed by His side at the hour of His own personal crisis? Where were the large crowds that once went looking for Him in their time of need, when they were hungry and sick? Where were they? Why had they deserted Him? Why had they ceased to support Him? Maybe they were fearful of death, that to be with Him in that moment might mean that they too would be nailed to a cross – that it would mean their death.
Now lets ask ourselves this question … where are we? Yes, we know that a global pandemic has forced us to stay at home and be safe – praying for the day when the mandate will be lifted. But truthfully – where are we? Are we too so fearful of death, of the cross, that even today we would also run away, abandon Him, throw in the towel?
Over the past few weeks I have been saying that this not the time to give up, it is the time to be more intentional in the practice of our faith. How is that even possible in the midst of the current situation in which we find ourselves? Good question… it is no doubt a suffering that has been imposed upon us. Our government leaders have asked us to take necessary precautions to protect ourselves and others. But what does Our Lord ask of us? I can only think of one thing on this Good Friday – to be with Him at the foot of His cross. To unite these, our sufferings and the sufferings of those who are ill and dying to Him who this day died on the cross for the salvation of the world. He asks us NOT to abandon Him this day but to be with Him – in heart, mind, body and soul. He asks us to kneel before Him, before the crucifix that hangs on our wall or sits on a prayer table in our homes and to offer Him this small thing – that our suffering through the global crisis we are under may not be in vain but may be for the healing and transformation of men and women all over the world. That in this offering, we may find a union with our God who suffered so deeply and painfully for us and a union with those, our brothers and sisters in the human family, who suffer so deeply this day. There, at the foot of the cross, do we see one another, there do we find the communion with one another and with our God for which we are longing, there do we see a suffering that brings healing, redemption, transformation … a death that leads to life …
From the Cross our Lord looks out this day – and He sees us with Him, He receives our offering … let us hear Him then speak to us: this crisis, this suffering, even these deaths due to this horrible virus … will not end in vain – at the foot of the Cross faith is deepened, hope restored, love is renewed … will you join me there now?