Good Friday – a day to remember and recall

Fr. Ray Collier writes a personal reflection on the day when we remember that Jesus entered our broken world to love – a selfless, forgetful love – the dehumanised people of God. On Good Friday, the world's leaders showed their resistance to this mission, but death was not the end and Jesus continues to love and give back to people their humanity.

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Scripture tells us that Jesus was crucified between two wounded and broken men. The cross for me is a symbol of a dehumanised society and of Jesus’ act of total solidarity in union with people on the fringes who are not treated in life as human beings. In other words, Jesus’ selfless act of love brings life, not death, for those deprived of life and of their humanity by the selfishness and greed of others.

The cross of Christ still stands in the world; the suffering he experienced has not ceased. It stands not as a ritual decoration, but as a reminder of the price that continues to be paid by those who dare to confront the dehumanising ways, values, priorities and systems of those who claim power and authority over the world with the values of the Gospel.

The crucifix is not a static presence of the suffering servant and of the crucified that we are asked to imitate, but a reminder that we are being challenged to enter the suffering servant’s activity of selfless, forgetful love on behalf of today’s dehumanised humanity; our mission is to humanise life.

The wounded earth, our home, and our wounded society, especially those who bear the greater burden as a consequence of environmental degradation and the present ongoing pandemic, are in great need of healing more than ever, due to unfettered greed, overbearing attitudes and indulgence in materialism and consumerism. The healing of truth where there is deceit and lies. The healing of justice where there is injustice and cruelty to the weakest. The healing of compassion where there is indifference and passivity at the sight of those who suffer. The healing of attentive listening where there is isolation and rejection. These healings help to restore humanity and build communities that are united and founded on the mission of Jesus, infused with his Spirit and attitudes.

For Easter to be alive we have to be prepared to be broken, wounded and poured out in selfless, forgetful love – vessels of healing – to bring about a humanised life, as God intended, for people and all of God’s creation deprived of their humanity in today’s world.

Let me quote from the final document of the Latin American Bishops conference held in Santo Domingo in 1992. “Discovering the face of the Lord in the suffering faces of the poor challenges all Christians to a deep personal and ecclesial conversion. Through faith, we find the faces emaciated by hunger as a result of inflation, foreign debt and social injustices; faces disillusioned by politicians who make promises they do not keep, faces humiliated because of their culture, which is not shown respect and sometimes treated with contempt, faces terrorised by daily and indiscriminate violence; anguished faces of abandoned children who wander our streets and sleep under bridges; suffering faces of women who are humiliated and disregarded; weary faces of migrants, who do not receive a decent welcome; faces aged by time and labour who lack even the minimum needed to survive decently.”

In the suffering faces of a dehumanised humanity, we have the faces of the crucified among us in our time. The question is: do we trust the crucified we see today? Do we listen attentively to the crucified? Do we take sides with the crucified? Are we willing to be vulnerable to the crucified?

To do so means to be a baptised person in today’s society.