Uniting our sufferings with Christ
One of the most difficult human experiences to comprehend is that of pain and suffering. Every human life will encounter them in one form or another. It can be physical suffering; it can be at the emotional level; it can be spiritual suffering. In whatever form it takes we struggle to comprehend its meaning. It appears just a negative and destructive experience. Is pain something just to be stoically endured? We know that pain and suffering can easily cripple our spirits and lead to anger and resentment: why me?
Each year on Good Friday the Church focuses its attention on the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel account by St John read in the Solemn Commemoration is quite graphic. Jesus was cruelly tortured and then died an agonising death, nailed to a cross. He plumbed the depth of human suffering, not only at the physical level but also at the emotional and spiritual level. He cried out from the cross, “O God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
We notice that Jesus was silent before his accusers. He accepted his fate. The Scriptures speak of him as a lamb going to the slaughter. He did not lash out in anger at those who were inflicting pain on him. In fact, he prayed, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
He was aware of a higher purpose in what he was enduring. He was offering himself as a sacrifice for the redemption of humanity. His embrace of suffering was in the end an act of love.
Suffering, pain and death are mysteries beyond human fathoming. However, Christ shows that they are not meant to be meaningless or futile. In fact, these most difficult human experiences can become redemptive.
This Good Friday as we silently contemplate the sufferings of our Lord, let us lift up our own pain and sufferings and unite them with his. In so doing we are enabling our experiences to also become redemptive.
Our commemoration of Good Friday brings a light to shine on the darkness that is human suffering.
Archbishop Julian Porteous