Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. -Hebrews 4:15-16
One Good Friday when I was young, while participating in the Stations of the Cross, I was given the grace to see that Jesus really understands and helps me in my weakness, my sadness, and my fears. For he went through it all Himself: betrayal by his friends, various temptations, discouragement, and misunderstanding from the leaders of his community. From then on, my prayer was different. St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionist order, expressed it this way: “When you are experiencing an agony of suffering in your spirit, cry out as Jesus did on the cross, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’……Your agony will end and you will die a mystical death to rise in Christ Jesus to a life of perfect love.”
Years later, on another Good Friday, I saw a picture of Jesus, hands extended on the Cross, with His arms encircling planet Earth and all the people. Jesus’ compassion and care extends to everyone as it does for me! And this includes the entire Creation, for He was there at the Beginning with the Father and the Spirit! St. Paul of the Cross expressed this in the congregational rule (#3): “We are aware that the Passion of Christ continues in this world until He comes in glory; therefore, we share in the joys and sorrows of our contemporaries as we journey through life toward our Father. We wish to share in the distress of all, especially those who are poor and neglected; we seek to offer them comfort and to relieve the burden of their sorrow.”
Jesus’ compassion knows no bounds; and we are challenged today to open our arms as wide as His, and extend our love, attention, and care to the whole created world.
Patty Gillis is a retired Pastoral Minister. She served on the Board of Directors at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit. She is currently a member of the Laudato Si Vision Fulfillment Team and the Passionist Solidarity Network.