Gospel Reflections

Feast of Good Friday

John 18:1-19:42

Feast Day Reflection by Sister JoAnn Recker

Published: March 30, 2018

“In you, O Lord, I take refuge.”  (Psalm 31)

We do not need to seek suffering; it finds us.   This realization, that suffering is not a punishment reserved for the bad, or that freedom from suffering is a reward for the good, but, rather, an inherent part of the human condition, is one with which Job struggled mightily. 

Jesus took on our human condition in all things but sin and, consequently, he suffered.  He did nothing bad; he did only good.  A man of perfect integrity, he preached, healed, and stood up to forces of political and religious oppression.  And so, he suffered.

He was abandoned.  Even his loyal followers fled, afraid to meet the same fate he was facing.  And, today, how many children have been abandoned… by the ravages of repressive regimes, by parents high on drugs, by the dislocation caused by war.  How many millions of them are subsequently hungry, homeless, frightened, alone?

He was betrayed with a kiss.  And, today, how many women have been betrayed and harassed by unwanted sexual advances perpetrated by those in power, by colleagues, even by members of their own families?  Their numbers grow daily.

He was sold for the price of a few coins.  And, today, thousands of women and children, even whole families, are trafficked only to line the pockets of others.   How many of these victims are cowed into frightened silence in our own countries, states, cities? 

He felt forsaken.  And, today, how many anguish, feel forsaken and depressed because of cyber-bullying, because they feel misunderstood, lonely and unwanted.  They may be minority populations or those struggling with sexual identity, feeling unloved and rejected in their struggle. 

Legion is the number of those who suffer in our world and legion is the number of those of us who often feel powerless in the face of all the suffering around us.  Try though we may, the enormity of contrary forces can, at times, make our efforts appear futile.

The past year may have been overwhelming with its frequent incidences of political contentiousness, its numerous natural disasters, the menaces of nuclear war, unconscionable uses of chemical bombs on innocent civilians, its violence in many forms.  Yet, with Jesus as our model and inspiration, we learn how to face the suffering that can, at time, seem to overcome us.  He shows that it is in embracing the cross, in carrying it in love and perseverance, in grasping the assurance that God’s love conquers even death that our suffering itself is redemptive.

We have Jesus, the Christ, “our rock, our refuge, our safe harbor.”  (Psalm 31) to guide us.  In Jesus’ own weakness, the power of God is present to bring salvation.  Jesus knows what suffering and feeling helpless is like and he teaches us the ultimate meaning about love.  As Bishop Thomas Gumbleton writes in “Listen to Jesus:  Respond to enemies with love” (NCR March 1, 2018): “You don’t just love those who love you; you love your enemies.  You do good to those who hurt you….  You never return violence for violence, hatred for hatred.”  In our own weakness, we need only to keep fighting the good fight, however insignificant our efforts might appear, asking God for the grace, strength, and courage to help us on our way, trusting that, ultimately, the light of God’s love and goodness will surely be brought to dispel the darkness.  


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