Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
Much has been said about what is ‘good’ about this day, I believe we each can personalize the ‘good’ for what it means to us. For me the ‘goodness’ of this day is to be able to reflect on Jesus’ compassion in his passion. We can begin with his agony in the garden “My soul is sorrowful even to death.” (Mt 26:38, Mk 14:34, Lk 22:44). Despite his sorrow and distress he is very patient with Peter James and John, whom he has asked to pray with him, but they cannot stay awake. Jesus also shows compassion for Judas. Jesus addresses him as “friend” even as he kisses him and turns him over to the authorities (Mt 26:50). Luke even records that Jesus heals the ear of a person that a disciple cuts off with a sword (Lk 22:51).
Then after enduring an all night kangaroo court, whipping, mockery and abuse, he is led out to be crucified. In spite of his suffering he continues to offer compassion. He comforts his Mother with a gentle look. He knew she suffered fully in his pain. He must have smiled at Simon of Cyrenia as he took the weight of the cross off of him (Mt27:32, Mk 15:21, Lk 23:26). What a gracious gift he gave to Veronica, who was courageous enough to maneuver around the centurions to wipe Jesus’ bloody face. He actually stopped and spoke to the women of Jerusalem (Mk 15:41, Lk 23:27-30). I wonder if the centurions thought they were losing control at this time. Maybe, in reality, they were never in control.
Even while he is suffocating on the cross, he endures the surging pain to lift himself enough to speak forgiveness and care for others. “Forgive them Father they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34). “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Lk 23:43). “Woman, behold, your son. Behold, your mother.” (Jn 19:26-27).
Are we compassionate when we are tired, hungry or thirsty? Do we have patience for those who so not understand? Do we forgive our betrayers immediately? Do we forgive those who mock us and abuse us? Do we forgive those who slander us or kill our reputation? Do we appreciate large and small favors, gifts and help from others as Jesus acknowledged Simon and Veronica? Do we give comfort to others in distress? Can we accompany others who are suffering? Are we present to their grieving or their dying?
Lord, help us to be compassionate as you are compassionate. Even in your ultimate sacrifice of giving your life for our sake, you showed us that mercy to others is still what God requires.
By Brigid Quinn Laquer