On this Good Friday I would like to talk about sin and to talk about love. I see trite, comfortable little packaged quotes thrown out left and right from everyone about everything, as if simply saying something makes it true. We don’t think critically about anything anymore, especially not about the way we even think about things. I have found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with humans. This is not good on my part for two reasons. Firstly, because as John Paul said, we must “not abandon ourselves to despair. We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song.” Secondly, because I should focus on my faults first, and, being human, I have a tendency not to do this.
I see everyone reacting. I see myself reacting against people reacting. We don’t have objective conversations anymore – we’re too busy simply reacting to what the other person’s opinion is. We’re too busy validating our own opinions and our own high mindsets of ourselves. Oh, if we could just love. And love. And love.
I went to confession a couple of weeks ago. I felt I had sincerely considered my sins. I was truly penitent for the ways I had been proud and self-centered. Sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I was humbled to put words to the ways I had been using others, to the ways I had been impatient and ungracious. I went into the confessional and shared with the priest, standing in for my Love and my Life, our Lord and our God, my failings and faults, my floundering prayer life, my desire to improve. I expected, and would have been pleased with, some advice as to the dangers of thinking ourselves above others, a penance which had me think in some way about Lent and how it is a season of penitence. What I received instead humbled me further. He said to me that God wants me to know that I am loved, that He accepts me as I am, that He died just for me and had there been no one else on the earth but me, He would do it again. My penance was to spend some time in front of the Blessed Sacrament being thankful for the fact that I am loved and meditating on that fact. What genuine mercy. What holy grace.
Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him. Enter into your mind’s inner chamber. Shut out everything but God and whatever helps you to seek him; and when you have shut the door, look for him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire. – St. Anselm
I remember someone telling me that we all have the same vocation – to love. Each vocation must be centered around love, loving each person we encounter – the specific tone of that love is our vocation. I have such a desire to live with a radical love that would transcend words, that would simply emanate from me, bringing people closer to God just out of its attractiveness. The other morning I prayed to God saying, “My God, you love me with a burning love which consumes all my other desires.” It may seem like I was simply praising God’s love of me, but it was a vocal and active reminder to myself that His love is all I need and that all my other desires must fall away – the desire to be praised, the desire to be right, the desire to be loved, the desire to be understood.
Look at yourself today. Stand back and let yourself notice all the ways you use people today, all the ways you are ungraciously impatient, all the ways you assume the worst of others, all the ways you take for granted that you are better than the person you cross in the street. Think of your motives, notice your selfishness, be concerned with how your pride keeps you from even realizing how wrong you may be. Really look at yourself. Feel remorse for how unmerciful you are towards others, for how this dysfunction in yourself makes you hate yourself and therefore hate others. Let it well up in your throat how terrible you can often, far too often, be.
And then realize that you are loved, that you can humble yourself and ask for forgiveness, that your terrible actions do not detract from your value or integrity as a human being.
A man died many, many years ago for all these things inside of you, for all of your ungracious attitudes and actions toward your brother and sister humans, toward the animals of the earth, toward the earth itself. He humbled himself to the point of feeling abandonment, to the point of asking that you be forgiven because you don’t even recognize how wretched you are, because you know not what you do. Christians celebrate that death today. Many Christians will die today for celebrating that death.
We are the Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song! Thanks be to Christ! You are immensely loved, and if others have made you feel today that you are not, let me be the one to remind you. You are loved so much that it is impossible for you to comprehend in this life and state of being.
May today be a day of great sorrow and of tremendous joy for you. God became man and died for your sake, so that one day you could be united to Him in everlasting, evergiving joy. It is, indeed, a good Friday.