Finding God on Gannon’s Campus

It’s that time again.  Palm Sunday begins the week of our Lord’s Passion and a time when the universal church begins to enter into the suffering of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.

I recall as a child hustling off to Mass to get my palms and I couldn’t wait to bring them home to put them in my room.  My dad would make them in a cross and hang them on the doorpost.

The smell of the incense during Mass was one of my favorite moments.  The red altar cloth and the priest garments were so pretty.

Today, I certainly have a different view about what this week means to me: the meaning of the suffering Christ.

If I can ask you to just think for a moment on what this Holy Week means to you, and as you do I want you just to think of one person whom you know who really hits that message home.  Perhaps it is a parent or aunt or uncle.  Maybe it is a friend or teacher.

Now, I would like you to place the image of the victims of wars and then look at the images of the holocaust victims and see the suffering Christ in each of them.

Take this a step further and see the face of Christ standing in front of Pilate when he is being whipped like an animal.

See Christ being spit on and then imagine Jesus standing before Pilate and Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?”

Really look into the eyes of Christ and see the pain and suffering he experienced just like the suffering victims of wars, prejudices and abuses.  These images are not far away.  The images I speak of are the people around you every day.

The one component that joins all of humanity is suffering, and it is precisely in that suffering that we come to see Christ.

The image of Christ is in each of us and when we suffer we suffer with him.  It may be a difficult thing to get your head around if you have felt that Jesus let you down.

I spoke to a woman not too long ago who was raped when she was in school.  This woman got pregnant and had an abortion.

That is a horrible thing to have to live with and when she sits in the dark she can just ask, “Where were you, Jesus? You promised to never leave me, yet this man raped me.”

What do you say to that?  I suppose the easy answer is, “You have to have faith.”

She carried that anger and guilt for years and when she finally began to discover the emotions and pain she was not accepting that faith answer very easily.

A child grows up in an abusive home and is betrayed by the parents who were supposed to love and protect them asks the same questions, “Where were you, Jesus?”

Going to classes and hearing about loving parents and how awesome families are can mean something very painful to victims of abuse.

So, lets get back to the war victims and now look in the eyes of Hitler.  Can you see Jesus in him?

What about the man who shot the elementary children in Sandy Hook, can you see Jesus in him?

How about the classmate who is mean and obnoxious and bullies people every time he has a chance?

Can we see Christ in the lowest person on this earth and say, “I love you” and mean it?

The litany of questions gives us a visual and helps bring that “have faith” concept into our daily lives, and can you imagine Jesus opening his arms and saying, “Come to me, and I will give you rest”?

Pilate could not see truth in Jesus and the meaning of that whole encounter was to illustrate what we will encounter.

Jesus the Christ was so beaten by the wounds of an abused parent, so scared by the bullets from a disconnected man, so beaten and starved under hand of a Nazi soldier, so depressed and hateful from being raped, and so void of emotion from being bullied from one of us that he is not recognizable and hidden.

The deepest part of salvation is when we realize the encounter was for the entire human race.  The entire human family who commits atrocities against each other finds salvation in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

May this Passion Week bring us the ability to see the suffering Christ clearly and may we be an example of Christ to each other.

 

ROB LOPEZ

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