By: Br. Matt Wooters SJ, Social Worker at Nativity Jesuit Academy in Milwaukee, WI.
Good Friday, April 14, 2017
Another mass shooting, another botched execution, another episode of an unarmed black man being executed on the spot by police, another boat filled with migrant women and children sinking in the Mediterranean. Change the channel, put down the newspaper, keep mindlessly scrolling on our newsfeed. If you are like me, this avoidance has become the all-too-uncomfortably-common response to human suffering and death.
I fear, in our modern age, we have grown numb to Good Friday. As we hear the words of Gospel today, a story of betrayal, of state sponsored torture and death, of faithful women amid fearful times... what is our response? Does this story still move us to tears and move us to conversion as it did for the early Church? Does it resonate with current events? Or has Good Friday become merely a liturgical speed bump on the way to celebrating Easter dinner with family or friends?
In the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius teaches us to use our imaginations to put ourselves in the scenes of the Gospel; he asks us to use all our senses and emotions to connect in a visceral way to the life and death of Christ. One way to do that is to enter into our prayer with senses and places we are more familiar with. I invite you to try this. After slowly rereading the Gospel, put yourself in the scene. Close your eyes. What does it look like? What sounds are you hearing? With whom do you identify with most? Mary? Peter? Pilate? What is the strongest emotion you feel as watch this scene unfold from their perspective? Do you feel powerless? Scared? Angry? Devastated? In your prayer ask Jesus to share how he felt in that moment. How does he feel now? Where and how are we invited to respond to those whose lives are Good Friday, every day?
Let us not rush to Easter, let us kneel at the foot of the cross and echo the words of the martyred Jesuit theologian, Ignacio Ellacuria, “Who are the crucified people of today? How have I crucified them? What do I need to take them down from their crosses?”