On this holy and sad day known as Good Friday, we will have many opportunities to reflect on the suffering of Christ. While this is a great idea and something that we all should do, we need to be careful. We often have the tendency to treat Our Lord’s suffering as something that happened two thousand years ago and something that was caused by some really nasty people who are no longer alive. While this line of thinking is partially true, it ignores two very important facts:
1. Ultimately, all sinners are responsible for Jesus’ suffering. That means that we share in the blame.
2. Even though Jesus’ Passion took place two thousand years ago, there is something that we can do to ease His suffering TODAY.
On the night before He died, Jesus spent time in the Garden of Gethsemane. Scripture tells us that “He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground” (Luke 22:44). Why was He suffering so greatly? In his book, Life of Christ, Archbishop Fulton Sheen expressed the opinion that Jesus was in agony because He saw all of the sins that were committed in the past and will be committed until the end of time. This means that when we hear of Our Lord’s suffering on the night before He died, we should realize that our sins were a contributing factor to his distress.
On the other hand, since He was God, it follows that Jesus would also be able to see all of the good things that would be performed over the years. Therefore, while He was in the garden, Jesus would have known every time that we turned away from sin or performed an act of kindness. Therefore, we still have the ability to ease His suffering in the Garden.
So what can we do about this? For one thing we can recognize that our sins caused Jesus a great deal of mental and physical pain. This should result in some degree of sorrow and a desire to do better in the future. Secondly, we can do something to ease the Lord’s pain. Here are some steps that we can take:
1. Pray - What did Jesus ask Peter, James and John to do while He was suffering in the garden? He asked them to stay awake and be with Him as He suffered. By praying every day, we do just that.
2. Turn Away From Sin - We should ask the Lord each day for the grace to resist temptation and turn away from sin.
3. Trust - Jesus told St. Faustina, “You will give me great pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of my grace”. Do you trust Him enough to let Him handle your problems?
4. Surrender - The most basic way to surrender to the Lord’s will is to accept everything that happens to you today and not complain. When was the last time you tried this?
5. Show Mercy To Others - “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40). In her diary, St. Faustina wrote of three ways that we can show mercy to others:
a. By Deed (Anything we do to alleviate the suffering of another)
b. By Word (Anything we say to alleviate the suffering of another)
c. By Prayer (Praying for one another)
Jesus suffered and died so that you could go to Heaven. By doing some simple things today and in the future, we have the ability to lessen the intense suffering that Jesus experienced because of our sins. Don’t waste the opportunity!