Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Lectionary: 255

I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.

When I look at the crucifix in our Mount Saint Francis chapel I remember that Jesus suffered and died this most appalling death by the deliberate decision of his fellow human beings. 

This man did not die of old age or disease or by accident. He is a child of the human race and we know he was doomed to death from the day of his birth. We understand that. We understand that each of us must die although we often go for days or weeks without thinking about it. 

Natural death is bad enough; it seems a huge insult to our dignity as human beings made in God's own image. Murder is something far worse. 

As a child in grade school I got used to the rough-and-tumble of boys on the playground. I shoved and was shoved around. Sometimes it was great fun. 

Sixty years later I have forgotten the sensation. If, for some obscene reason, someone were to intentionally shove me aside, I would be astonished, at least; and probably angered. "How dare you lay a hand on me?" 

But what if that shove were fatal? What if it came with such violence that it tore my being from my body? How would I react as I saw my body falling lifelessly to the floor? 

I hear that reaction in the hospital as patients are "handled" by the health care workers. We continually remind one another, "This is not a "case"; this is "Jack" who has served his country, has married and raised children who love him, who worked hard, took pride in his work, and made a habit of self-sacrifice. Jack deserves courtesy and respect as we care for him. And Jack doesn't like to be handled.

Some of our Veterans were prisoners of war; many of them are combat Veterans and still suffer the painful memories. Being helpless and vulnerable is both alien and entirely too familiar to them! What can we do to make this experience less uncomfortable? 

Turning back to the crucifix, I see the Son of God who has been brutally mishandled by men who take pleasure in hurting and killing others. Like any other creature he is sorely aware of physical abuse. HIs torturers will not be ignored; they will not be denied their Real Presence. He cannot "zone out;" he does not distance himself from his body. 

His only "coping mechanism" is his prayer, "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing." 

I pray that he includes me in that prayer for the times I have "dealt with" people. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.