“I want you to suffer.”

Okay, perhaps not the words we would choose to hear first-thing at a Mass.  But that was how the homily began today.

His point wasn’t that he wanted us to all suffer needlessly, but to recognize that suffering often comes out of love and to not be afraid to love, even if it means we’ll suffer.

I have to confess: I’m a bit of a Good Friday person.  Being present to the suffering of Christ and of others isn’t the problem for me.  I’ve seen enough suffering in the world that it’s not hard to call to mind people and places and spaces.  My problem is coming out of it on Holy Saturday night/Easter Sunday morning.  After all, Jesus rose from the dead after three days.  But the same cannot be said for the crucified peoples of the world.  Now, I’m not saying that death has the final word, because as a Christian, I can’t say that (and I believe, from the core of my being, the death has been defeated).  But what I am saying is that there are an awful lot of people still on their crosses after Easter Sunday comes and goes.

Ignacio Ellacuria, a Spanish Jesuit who spent the better part of his life in El Salvador (and was ultimately assassinated there along with five other Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter, on 16 November, 1989) asks: What have I done to crucify the people of the world? What am I doing to crucify them now?  What am I going to do to take them down?

As we head into Good Friday, the poor, the hungry, the starving, the oppressed, the marginalized…these are the faces I see when I look at the Cross.  And these are the people whose suffering I am present to.  And I find myself asking Ellacuria’s questions, trying to find a way to both be present to the suffering of others and to find a way to take them down off the cross.  Falling in love with the poor, building relationships with them, means entering into their suffering.  It’s not pleasant, but love isn’t always easy.

My prayer for us all this week is that we have our hearts broken and we increase our capacity to suffer with others.

Becky Chabot is a third year Masters of Divinity candidate at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  After graduating from Creighton University, Becky lived in Bolivia and spent a year as a St. Joseph Worker (www.stjosephworkers.org).  Her research interests include Latin American liberation theology, intercultural theology, and social ethics.  When not doing schoolwork, she enjoys Bob Dylan, Doctor Who, knitting, and good Scotch.  She also enjoys figuring out peoples’ Enneagram numbers, Myers-Briggs types, and Hogwarts houses.  Her main blog is entitled A Traveling Theologian.

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2 thoughts on ““I want you to suffer.”

  1. Hey! You read my mind. I also have a problem coming out of the grief on Holy Saturday/Easter. And I struggle with the beauty, horrible nature of Jesus’ death. I struggle with a lot of that. I don’t think we have to take people down from their crosses, literally. I just think we need to be a little more open.

  2. Becky, I was in Boston with a good friend last week and she went to this Mass. We had a great conversation about the homily when we met up later in the day. It stuck with me through the Triduum. Thanks for sharing your reflection on it…

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