Gospel Reflections

Feast of Good Friday

John 18:1-19:42

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Elizabeth Smoyer

Published: April 14, 2017


WBerg Cross Jesus and dove web300pxToday, we in the Christian community stop and immerse ourselves in the suffering and death of Christ Jesus. We bring with us our personal fears and actual experiences of death and suffering. We bring our personal and communal losses and brokenness. We bring the suffering of our nations.  We bring the suffering of the world’s peoples. We bring what Rev. Doctor Martin Luther King describes as the “Triplets of Evil:” racial injustice, economic exploitation (poverty), war (militarism) and greed for money and power that underlie these three.”¹  We bring our tendency to gain security at the price of making some one, or group of people “other,” “not like us” and thus to be shunned and made “enemy.” We bring the suffering and death that our forests and birds, animals, land, seas and their creatures are enduring at our hands. 

As we carry these memories and understandings of evil and suffering, we assent to walk with Christ. We come together in community to contemplate his choosing to allow the kingdoms of this world to have their way.  Christ, with his death instrument on his shoulders, made the choice to walk to Calvary out of love and trust in our Good God. He walked in terrible physical pain, amid derision and isolation from his followers, save a faithful few: “his mother Mary, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene”  and “the disciple whom he loved.”  The following reflections on the cross from our co-founders Julie Billiart and Françoise Blin offer us a way into the mystery of violence and love we contemplate today.²

Julie wrote to Françoise: Receive my heart, my good friend, put it with yours at the foot of the holy Cross of our good Jesus.  That is your bouquet. (Julie L71)  Françoise responded: I received your letter on the very feast of St. Frances (3/9); I can’t tell you how pleased I was with your bouquet. (Françoise L13)

Days of darkness are perhaps our best and happiest days for glorifying God. (Julie L2)

It is always true that the cross is the source of all grace. Carry yours with courage and believe yourself to be blest. (Françoise, December 12, 1818)

Our loving Master entered into his glory only by suffering and yet we should like to go there by another road?  No, no, we shall never be able to do that! (Julie L372)

We must persist in asking for a living faith and an ardent charity, to be our support on the royal road of the cross. (Julie, L151)

It takes a big heart to walk briskly while following Jesus crucified. (Françoise, Unpublished Fragment 14)

As we grow more aware of both the personal and the communal nature of the evil that infects our hearts and our world systems, it seems we need even more the mystery of the cross and the love that flows through it. Today we remember that the spirit that Jesus handed over with bowed head still flows through our hearts and in the heart of the universe. Today we allow the blood and water that flowed from his side to continue to wash our hearts and minds. We are invited to allow that deluge to transform our daily seeing and acting into attitudes of humility, compassion and solidarity in suffering. We are called to reach outside our usual locations and listen to one another's stories in trust. We are called to allow the stories we hear to mingle freely with our own story and change us. We are called to allow our Good God’s loving grace to flow to us and through us wherever we are.

Could Joseph of Arimathea, the secret disciple of Jesus or Nicodemus, the one who came to Jesus at night ever have imagined what the myrrh bearing women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary would witness two days later? May we join these women and men of faith in laying claim to the dead and now risen Christ. May we embrace the loving transformation offered from that empty tomb this Good Friday 2017. May we live from that transformation in all that comes from the future that holds us.

Copy and paste this link into your internet browser to hear a beautiful reflection on the mystery of love we are invited into today: "Faithful Cross" – Tim Kendzia and Rory Cooney [ https://youtu.be/F1nTYx-lbdo ]


¹ Beyond Vietnam Speech, 1967
² Many thanks are due to the team of Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who compiled these and many other reflections of Julie and Françoise in Remembering God’s Goodness on the occasion of our 200th anniversary in 2004.

 

 

 

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