“Remain here and stay awake.”
I stood at Joe’s grave and wept. I never expected to grieve as much as I did.
Joe saw the cross coming. Cancer does that to you. He fought, he prayed, he laughed, and he never stopped loving people. Ultimately, he put his life in God’s hands, while never giving up on the talent of his doctors.
On a cold January day, I stood at his grave with tears frozen to my face. I wept because he was gone, and I wept tears of deep gratitude for everything he taught me.
Joe did not falter in the face of Good Friday. He knew the only way through is through. Death is the only sure path to eternal life. The only way to Easter is to go through the cross.
What Good Friday moment are you facing?
Sooner or later we all find ourselves at Good Friday. No one escapes the cross. Is there a Good Friday moment that you are anticipating this Lent? It might be a physical death, or coming face-to-face with some personal reality you’ve been trying to avoid. The world often finds itself in Good Friday – another year of drought in Ethiopia, the ongoing war in Syria, those afflicted with the Zika virus, and millions of refugees who are far from home.
Dying and rising are requisite to the Christian journey. This great Pascal Mystery we celebrate during Holy Week is incomplete without the road to Calvary. But wouldn’t most of us rather skip the cross? As I contemplate the cross, I imagine all of my worst fears coming true: to be alone, to be in pain, to appear weak, to be abandoned by my friends, to be humiliated in public, to be mocked by my peers.
Can’t we just skip to Easter?
Oh, how quickly we want to go rushing into Easter! After all, we know how the story ends. Tombs broken open! Stones rolled away! Bright blue skies just beyond the horizon. It is tempting to skip over Good Friday and start handing out tulips. Jesus is already Risen!
Yet, on Good Friday, we hear these words again: Remain here and stay awake. Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.
Mercy Revealed on the Cross:
It is only when we step toward the cross, when we embrace the cross, that we begin to comprehend its mystery and its glory. Jesus did not want to die. Jesus’ only desire was to love us, and in doing so, he accepted the consequences of those who turned against him. Jesus abandoned himself to God’s will with great faith, knowing that death does not have the final word. Love will overcome, and new life will prevail. Jesus stands with us and shares in our suffering. If I turn and run from the crosses in my life, then I miss this opportunity to see Jesus.
It is love that gives Christ’s sacrifice on the cross its redemptive value – Jesus’ love for us, and in turn, our love for one another. The promises of hope, new life, and resurrection are not far away. Mercy, too, is very close. Mercy meets us at the cross. For today, on this Good Friday, can I pray for the grace to remain here with Jesus?
Want to Go Deeper?
- Catholic Relief Services: Stations of the Cross Digital Retreat
- Creighton University Online Stations
C.S. Lewis wrote that only with powerful blows could Michaelangelo create the magnificent statues of the Pieta and David. And so our pain/crosses, which I like to think as redemptive suffering, is preparing us for our eternal home with God. How can we appreciate something wonderful and better than this earth if we haven’t experienced something worse? Compare and contrast. Life and the Risen Life. ( My personal homily to myself)