Experiencing the Sorrowful Mysteries on Good Friday
This weekend, as I prayed the sorrowful mysteries, my meditation turned to life
experiences. How is my own life represented in the way of the cross? How could I
understand the sufferings of our Lord in the light of self reflection? Jesus was
truly God and truly man. But more than that, He was Everyman, though unlike any
who had ever come before. What He endured in these 24 hours makes Him so real to
me. The words "He was like us in all ways but sin" are sensed at my "gut level" this
morning as I pray...
1.) The Agony in the Garden - Anguish
Life is tough. Each of us has experienced emotional pain, and in our physically
comfortable society, the wounds of these experiences are perhaps even deeper.
These wounds are slow to heal, and the scars are very deep. When I think of the
years of sadness and depression in my own life, I wonder how I ever emerged to
where I am today. It can only be the work of a loving God. Hearing the phrase
"man of sorrows" brings Jesus so close - right next to me - as I pray "Our
2.) The Scourging at the Pillar - Pain
I'm no stranger to pain. Having had numerous ear infections as a kid, and a
dozen kidney stones as an adult, physical pain is almost like an "old friend" to
me. When I experience it now, my first thought isn't "How do I get rid of this?"
as much as "Hey, I'm still alive", for pain is a part of life. The pain of the
whip was awful, but I wonder if there was the slightest glint of consolation in
the mind of our Lord as He reflected on Isaiah 56, "...by his stripes we are
3.) The Crowning With Thorns - Humiliation
I'm thinking there are actually people in this world who have never experienced
the horrors of humiliation in their lives. Most of us have suffered at the hands
of others' harsh abuse, cruelty, and mocking words and actions. The offender is
often one whom we love; they hold the most influence over us, and can hurt us
most deeply - though usually inadvertently. Why do others treat us this way? Why
do we treat others this way? Most likely it's because the offender is trying his
hardest to avoid the experience himself, at the expense of the victim. Christ
knew this, and did not allow the mocking soldiers to lessen His love for them.
Although He was being victimized, He refused to play the victim. He refused to
offend. In the end, He simply said "Father, forgive them".
4.) The Carrying of the Cross - Hard Labor
Anyone who says work is a joy never worked in a steel mill. There is no doubt in
my mind that hard physical labor is part of the curse. These days I work behind
a desk, and that is indeed rewarding and fulfilling. But for many years I
melted, refined and cast hot liquid steel...and it was sheer hell. Literally.
The first time I walked into an open hearth shop, I thought "this must be what
hell is like". Then I sucked it up, and went to work. So why did I do it? Why
did I put myself through this rough, gritty, sweaty, bloody experience? Because
I loved my family. Why did Jesus endure the via dolorosa? Because He loved His
5.) The Crucifixion of Our Lord - Death
Death is a stranger to me. Unlike my brother Lyn, I have never even been in the
same room as someone at their moment of death. But like everyone in this world,
the day will come when I shall experience it first hand. What will it be like?
Will I pass, fighting and screaming, and clinging to life? Or will I simply fall
into the arms of my Savior? The few moments I have had in the last couple years,
when I thought death was approaching (an auto accident which I experienced in
slo-mo; a gut pain that I thought was surely something life ending; the time a
guy pulled a gun on me last Fall), my thought was "I'm ready, Lord. I've lived
my life. I've fulfilled my mission. Catch me". Jesus' final words: "It is
finished. Paid in full. Into Thy hands...". I hope mine are similarly filled
with hope and anticipation.
Resurrection is just around the corner. May yours be blessed!