April 18, 2014 - Good Friday, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Our lives can be filled with lots of different kinds of troubles.
Parents have to say goodbye to their children when they grow up.
And sometimes parents say goodbye to a child who dies too soon due to sickness or tragedy.
We have to sit at the bed of loved ones who are suffering, waiting for death to come.
Or maybe we have to watch as a spouse or parents slowly looses his or her memory.
Sometimes we mourn the loss of a friendship or even a marriage.
There are other troubles like bitter sibling rivalries, shocking family secrets, addictions to pain killers or pornography.
We have trouble at work when we see important matters getting swept under the rug.
And sometimes our pains are at school where we’re bullied and harassed because we just don’t walk with the crowd.
Relationships can be rough and raw.
Our successes in life don’t ever reveal our true character. Our true character is revealed in the way we deal with these difficulties of life.
So what if I can restore some pews or fix a bell tower or conduct a beautiful liturgy or give a meaningful homily? So what?
For me, being good at those things comes easy. It comes naturally. They are my strengths. It doesn’t reveal my true character.
It means nothing really if I cannot also do the difficult things too:
Things like visiting and comforting the sick and dying, burying the dead, accepting and sitting with those who are different from me, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, giving comfort to those who are filled with anxiety, forgiving those who speak ill of me.
I cannot do just the things I like. I must also do the things that are difficult. There is no magic formula to make our troubles vanish.
In fact, quite the opposite is true. All I can offer you are the words of another who is more powerful than I am:
”Pick up your cross and follow after me.”
And as I reflect on my own life, I begin to realize that the cross I carry is not nearly as heavy as the cross Jesus carried.
While there is stress and anxiety in being a priest today, I seldom fall under the weight of my cross.
While there is loneliness and pain, I am seldom whipped to the point of the flesh being torn from my body.
While there is suffering and brokenness, I have never had a nail ripped through the flesh of my hands and feet.
So today I will take off my shoes out of profound respect for the one who died for me. I will venerate the wood of the cross on which he died.
I will whisper, “Jesus, give me the strength to carry my cross with grace, so that I can continue to follow you.”
And I will remember that today we venerate the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the world.