Solemn Commemoration of the Passion
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. -1 Corinthians 1:18
The online magazine WIRED talked to 16 people on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of them in the medical professions, asking them a series of questions. In the interview, they share their routines, their stress and nightmares, their sadness and exhaustion, the grief they share with devastated family members, and the death–death in incomprehensible numbers.
One might easily wonder why these 16 people would knowingly put themselves into such a life-threatening situation, why they would choose to share such suffering with patients and families. Certainly foolishness to some.
There really are no words to fully describe our Lord’s Passion, to make precise the Paschal Mystery. There is only our shared human experience. Our experiences of suffering bind us together in solidarity as brothers and sisters as perhaps nothing else does.
The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said in an interview with Krista Tippett, that “without suffering we have no way to learn how to be understanding and compassionate.” He continued, “The Kingdom of God is a place where there is understanding and compassion.”
The 16 people interviewed by WIRED also talked about witnessing awe-inspiring courage, about looking out for each other, about love. Their generous living of their lives in the shadow of death witnesses to the message of the cross alive today.
Our own lives may not be on the front lines, yet we all share in the experience of suffering. Hebrews 2:18 promises that “Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” May we trust in these words, and embrace our own suffering and that of the world with tenderness, allowing the compassion of Jesus Christ to flow through us and the Kingdom of God to come alive among us. The choice each of us makes matters.
Lissa Romell is the Administrator at St. Vincent Strambi Community in Chicago, Illinois.