Gospel Reflections

Feast of Good Friday

John 18:1-19:42

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Marna Rogers

Published: April 03, 2015

A Hollowed and Hallowed Cross

When I returned to the United States from Rome in 1997, Sister Ann C. Kelly had also come home for a medical leave from Zimbabwe, a mission she truly loved. What became a sabbatical for me, became a time for Sr. Ann to address the cancer that would eventually take her life, but not without a brave and insightful effort to face each challenge.

Neither she nor I would ever know that our trips to Massachusetts General Hospital for chemo, doctors' visits for another painful medical issue (still in its earliest stages of research and treatment), and her incisive/quiet inquiries to the doctors treating her, would move me into the health care field eighteen years ago. I wanted to know how to accompany others in the best way possible. Sr. Ann had been so patient with my untutored efforts.

Some friends bearing gifts from New Mexico area came to visit Sr. Ann. One gift, a thick dark black-stained cross on which was nailed any body part that might be ailing/needing healing, and the other a tawny-colored cross of driftwood, very light, naturally eyelit, with various sized open areas, and at the cross-place were dried flowers still vibrant in color.

To this day, each morning, I place this cross on my bed, a lovely reminder of a very beautiful person, whose science background informed all areas of her life, especially clarifying her own dying process. This cross is a reminder, also, of someone who went to God in the fullness of life, carved in generosity, humility and illness. This cross has become a conscious moment to consider what my day will ask of me.

The Adoration of the Cross
In the Adoration of the Cross for the Good Friday Liturgy for this year, I recognize that those with whom I will worship may have their eyes specifically on the Cross which the priest raises. Persons, wherever they are in the world, also raise their own personal crosses, which remain a mystery to those around them, unless they choose to share.

The first time the priest/deacon raises the Cross, in my heart I will raise Lisa and Eric. Lisa is a colleague whose adopted son from the Dominican Republic, Eric, is as kind and generous as she is. All his life, he has wrestled with mental and emotional illness, which has heightened implications as he enters adolescence. He understands the need to seek residential help periodically, and his mother's gifts of openness, directness, humor and insight, support him on his journey to embrace healing and his best learnings. Lisa and Eric live on a farm with all rescued animals, and he does the equivalent of a full day's work before going to school.

The second time the Cross is raised, I will lift up Paula with her family. During this very poignant year, she is mourning the loss of her son Paul, who took his own life very publically in Chicago last February. As much as he struggled to choose life after the trauma of his rape on campus, his life after this experience was never the same. To those with whom he worked, and other friends, he presented a warm and caring personality, eager to establish himself in his professional life, and in his personal life as a young gay man. His parents, sister and her husband, cherished his wholehearted love for them as well as the depth of his pain and his courage which they have only gradually recognized.

For the third raising of the Cross, I will lift up all young mothers like Tricia, who struggle to support their children and create stability after becoming homeless due to the actions of an abusive spouse/boyfriend. When Tricia sat in front of me at her Orientation to begin work as a certified nursing assistant in the rehabilitation center, her personal issues were not visible. As she gained surety in her work and direction in her life, her demeanor and quiet confidence emerged. It was one day over lunch, with no one else there, that she shared her pain.

We bring to this Good Friday before Easter 2015 all the people and places in our world which need healing, stability, peace, and a sense of home. Whatever hollows/hallows the crosses we carry in illness, in learning anew the courage with which each one embraces the day, in keeping in view the well-being of those we love. In sharing the crosses, our burden is lighter and our love refined.

Margaret Wheatley, in So Far from Home, writes:
"Only as we open ourselves to the world as it is, open to the enormous tragedy(ies) of this time, will we find the skillful means and the gentleness, decency and bravery to serve this world. It doesn't matter which way history moves. What matters is now: how we live, work, and create together in this very moment, relying on and cultivating our best human qualities, creating meaning by how we are together in the present moment."


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