Richard Rohr has been doing a series of meditations that make it very clear that the downward spiral of suffering is the way up and the only way out to resurrection—at least that is what I have got out of his reflections. If I missed the point, blame me not Richard.
Somehow the image of the Risen Christ—once crucified—hanging with us in our human condition struck me this morning. My angst this day is somehow coupled with our sense of loss at not being able to participate in the Good Friday Ecumenical Walk in Cocoa, Florida. The walk visits a veterans’ center, a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, the mainline railroad tracks (symbolic of the immigrant strangers among us, and the city government center. Appropriate prayers and songs are sung at each site. It is wonderful to see so many people of faith putting it on the Gospel line. I am thrilled when the young people in our midst cannot wait for their turn to lead the procession and carry the cross. The Walk gives a whole new meaning to the absurd power of the cross. With all this as background, here goes my Good Friday meditation.
Good Friday is in part all about powerlessness. The other part is resurrection but we have to lament and grieve before we came arise. Good Friday commemorates the day when the One who had everything lost everything. It commemorates the pain, suffering, and angst of the human condition. It is about the folly of the cross.Lamentation helps us to occupy Good Friday. [I bet Jesus did not think the day “good” when he was suffocating to death on the Tree of Life.]
We never become what we should be; therefore, pain and suffering are very much with us. Through it all though, Rohr reminds us that the Christ is hanging with us in our mortal angst, in our powerlessness. God—Christ Power—is with us in our suffering. The Risen Christ tells us that all things are possible with God. Christ comes to us disguised as our lives.
We thus were/are/will be powerless when—
- Life is totally absurd and we are caught in the grip of the power and principalities.
- We suffered physical and emotional abuse as children.
- A friend for whom we are praying for healing dies of cancer.
- We were rejected by those we called friends.
- We were disowned by parents because we tied to live our lives with authenticity.
- Our dreams were crushed by cold-hearted power brokers.
- The love of our life chose another and abandoned us.
- A spouse beat us or our children.
- Wayward children walked on dangerous paths.
- Unscrupulous banksters foreclosed on our homes.
- We are arrested because we oppose the greed of the 1%.
- The 1% oppress and exploit us.
- Greedy employers cut our jobs to maximize profit.
- Politicians in the pockets of the 1% messed with our security.
- Presidential candidates spoke against wars only to later escalate them.
- Medical expenses wipe out our life savings.
- The Church excludes gays and lesbians from full communion.
- We served and gave lives and limbs only to be abandoned.
- We cried out “I hunger and thirst” and no one heard us.
- Only the feet of men are worthy to be washed on Maundy Thursday.
- Our children went to bed with swollen hungry bellies and hunger-sunk eyes.
- A park bench becomes our bed.
- Justice for all becomes privilege for the few.
- The Church abuses children and refuses to ordain women.
- Our church chose doctrinal correctness over Gospel love.
- When we are jailed because we oppose war, violence and nuclear weapons.
- Our youthful energy is sapped by the ravages of age.
- We clank and clunk because our body parts wore out.
- Suffered rejection because of our beliefs.
- We abdicated our ability to think to Fox News.
- We came to America undocumented to make enough money to survive.
- Unfair trade agreements made us refugees.
- When drones killed our children and friends.
- Billions of our brothers and sisters live on less tha $2 a day.
- When IEDs maimed or killed our brothers and sisters.
- “Enemies” were waterboarded in far away prisons.
- Defense consumes over 50% of the budget while education and health care are underfunded.
The list could go on and on and on; however, before total existential despair and angst overwhelm us, we see the Light at the end of the tunnel. The Light is Christ Power—the Risen Christ is with us in all our cares and woes.
In our angst we encounter the Christ when we sink into our suffering and embrace it. The Christ hangs with us on the Tree of Life. Only when we let go can we come out the other side to Easter Resurrection and joy. Good Friday is all about solidarity—hanging with one another and the Risen Christ. Our Good Friday task is to totally embrace the angst and absurdity in our lives and to know that as we hang on the crosses of our lives, Jesus the Christ is hanging with us, sharing our pain, suffering and angst. Good Friday is all about “hanging in there.” It is a time for immersion—I mean total immersion—in lamentation and grief. May the Force of the Cosmic Risen Christ be with you in your pain and suffering. May you rise from the ashes of life’s absurdity, foolishness, angst and turmoil to new life in the Spirit.