Good Friday Homily 2014

April 18, 2014
by Anne Shepard, OSB

Rachel lost her first born, a daughter, Gradie,  last February.  She mourned for at least two months where conversation, even with friends, about her loss couldn't and didn't happen.  On the feast of St. Benedict this year, she gave birth to a healthy boy, Ralston.  Rachel's suffering of the loss of Gradie was not eliminated; it is made bearable by the joy of new life.

Others we know have suffered heinous losses.  This week began with news of the loss of lives of Terri LaManno, William Corporon and Reat Underwood, all killed randomly by one who has chosen to hate.  We join Christian and Jewish communities praying today for the family, friends, neighbors and classmates of these victims.   

Tragedy due to disappearance is almost unbearable for the  multiple people still not discovered in the Washington mudslide, in the missing flight over the Indian Ocean, in the hands drug traffickers and kidnappers in Central and South America.

Suffering caused by climate change, because of  human disregard for the environment, is effecting the citizens of Angola dying from hunger because of drought, of the Philippines due a nasty typhoon, Jordanians harmed by sandstorms.  

 During Lent I read from Holiness by Donald Nicholl  that "to be cut off from suffering is automatically to be cut off from joy.  And since we are made for joy, we would have failed monstrously to become what we were meant to be if we were cut off from suffering.  Whenever we are removed from suffering for any length of time, we can be certain that we are on the wrong path."  This passage caused me to pause and really reflect on what this means.  My conclusion is not that our God wants us to suffer.  No, we know that suffering is part of the human condition.  Joy comes to our hearts when we follow closely the way of Christ, when we reach out in compassion to those who are hurting.  Joy comes when we face our pain and losses with courage and integrity.  Great saints, both living and deceased, have led lives of compassion, of feeling with others. 

Rachel wasn't cut off from suffering.
Washingtonian townspeople are not cut off from suffering.
Millions of our brothers and sisters who are victims of atrocities due to climate changes, terminal illness or human trafficking are not cut off from suffering. They are ones on the right path, at least eventually.

Our Catholic faith and tradition have always stated that the ultimate form of suffering is one where a pure, innocent person sacrifices his or her very self for the sake of others.

As followers of the Christ, an innocent victim for the sake of every other human being, we are called to love as Christ loved, to care, to break bread with, to be companions and to be compassionate.  Today.  In our silence.  By our staying informed.  By our presence with those who are hurting.  We don't want to be on the wrong path, after all,  we at the Mount and all who are gathered here are called to be witnesses of love and comfort.  That's why.  It's the cost of our Easter joy.