There is an incredible poverty in suffering. When one is carrying a cross that is really all one has. Jesus was stripped of everything in the process of taking up His cross for us. He was stripped of His will, His friends, His family, His clothes, His dignity, and His life. He chose it, allowed everything that happened, but in doing it He chose the poverty of suffering and dying. The poverty was so complete He even had to give up carrying His own cross, needing Simon of Cyrene to complete the task. All He could do is embrace the pain and suffer on the Cross.
There is an incredible poverty for those of us who mourn as we watch Him go to His death...for us. In mourning, we are powerless to do anything at all to help the dying One. We have nothing to offer...except ourselves. We cannot take away the pain; we cannot offer anything at all to ease the journey He is on. All we have to offer is being there with Him.
It feels to us like it is not enough that we just be there, and yet it is the greatest gift we can give. Our poverty is that we know the gift we offer is flawed, broken, and weak. But it is all we have to offer. Yet we still feel the emptiness of our own inability to offer anything at all, even though we know that all we have is what we are attempting to give. In truth, our poverty IS our gift. And we need to be at peace with that gift because it is the only gift He really desires.
On this Good Friday as we accompany Jesus on the Way of the Cross, let us not be desirous of being Simon of Cyrene who at least had something he seemed to be able to offer. That was his gift, not ours. Let us not be desirous of being John the beloved disciple, or Mary the mother of Jesus, or Mary Magdalene, all of whom wept at the foot of the cross. Their gifts were theirs, and not ours. Let us simply be ourselves with our own gift of poverty and our own gift of ourselves. That is what Jesus desires when He says; "I thirst." And only we can slake that thirst by giving ourselves to Him, at the foot of the cross, beyond words, beyond thoughts, but simply there.
May we have the grace to give the gift of our poverty to Jesus! May we have the courage to give the gift of our presence at His cross! Let us meet at the foot of the cross and keep vigil at the tomb. Shalom!
©Michele L. Catanese
The drawing is by Fr. William Hart McNichols from a book called The Fifteen Mysteries by M. Basil Pennington.
Heart Speaks to Heart