A reflection by Mauricio Silva and Nathalie Marytsch
Growing up in our native Chile, the Good Friday experience was always one of going to the depths of both your personal and social sorrows. It was always a mix of an inward and an outward journey. The sombre tone of the liturgy felt like an encouragement to review personally in what way as individuals we needed to change and improve– the inner journey. On the other hand, the lively feeling of participating in the crowded Way of the Cross processions and marches along the streets, was a reminder of the common struggle we faced as a community under a dictatorial regime – the outer journey.
Today, this crisis finds us in Birmingham and we are faced again with a similar sense of shared vulnerability which has embraced every aspect of our inner and outer life. At a family level, the enjoyment – and strains- of spending more time with those we live with mixes with the sadness of a forced separation from other people we love. In Fatima House -a project run by the Columban missionaries, which offers accommodation to nine destitute asylum seeker women- the encouragement we find in seeing the spontaneous solidarity of women who have already gone through separation and isolation from those they love, mixes with the fact that these ‘broken lives on the mend’ are faced with yet more uncertainties due to this global pandemic.
The Gospel tells us of a tortured and outcast Jesus on the cross crying ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?’ In the context of fear and sense of abandonment felt by many because of Covid-19, we all may need to listen more attentively to this cry and perhaps try to own Jesus’ words as an acknowledgement of our own limitations. We may need to find, in the solitude and loneliness of today, what Jesus’ cry means in our lives personally and socially. Accompanying Jesus this Good Friday may mean that, in the nakedness of our own limited existence, we are able to take time to discern what is it that really matters in my life and what makes us fulfilled as individuals and as a society. So when Resurrection is experienced, we will have learned to let go of everything that, in that ‘normal life of the past’, gave us a godless sense of being in control.
The Good Friday of this pandemic can also be an opportunity to grow in solidarity with many who, among us, are confined to live in permanent exclusion and isolation particularly the unemployed , the frail isolated elderly, the asylum seekers and so many others. They, like Jesus, confront us with surprisingly beautiful signs of life which spring out from discarded seeds.