I write this reflection having just returned from praying the Stations of the Cross in my chapel. In this classic, traditional, and deeply personal Catholic devotion, we strive to share in some way the excruciating sufferings which our Lord Jesus Christ endured on that first Good Friday. Today and throughout these weeks many are enduring heavy pains that allow them to do the same — identify with our Lord in His sufferings.
We think of those who have fallen victim to the pandemic, the health care workers who at great risk care for them, the many who have lost their jobs and fear for the future of their families, and the numerous homebound who cannot venture out even to attend Mass and the Sacraments. All of them and so many more take up their cross and fall under its heavy weight. They feel the loneliness of walking the Way of the Cross, greeted by the sympathetic Veronica, the weeping women of Jerusalem, the reluctant Simon, and the jeering soldiers. They mount the hill of Calvary, the Place of the Skull, only to die and be buried in a borrowed tomb. In the words of St. Gregory the Great: “If the mystery of the Lord’s passion is to be effectual in us, we must imitate what we receive and proclaim to others what we venerate” (On the Book of Job, Bk. 13).
I would hope that we all can identify with our Lord in this way. He carried upon Himself the sins of the world, our sins, yours and mine. The words of Isaiah are fulfilled: “[H]e was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). Pause and ponder this mystery.