Isaiah sings the Song of the Suffering Servant; the words have hard edges and the melody is wrenching. It is an intimate Song, and that’s where the pain of Divine rejection is sharply revealed. Good Friday is one of the most powerful days of the year for us as believers. God goes to the mat for us in ways that defy our expectations, yet expand our hope. Still. It is a somber experience of walking, sitting, kneeling, and falling heavily beside this mysterious, beloved God. Jesus takes us from a warm family meal, laced with laughter, gratitude, and deeply personal revelation, to the tree-sheltered garden, which overlooks the city. A garden that has been a refuge for Jesus in the past, for John tells us that his betrayer knew the place.
The readings for today all point to the violation of personal space. This is also often the case for our work with God’s marginalized children at Catholic Charities. What space remains safe? Human beings seek shelter. Living as an unsheltered individual or as a working parent who sees the effects of poverty for her children, leaves our people vulnerable, pressed by the challenges of their circumstances. Is any place safe? Even – as in Northern Nevada this winter – the harsh weather has become a foe penetrating and compromising fragile shelter.
Yet, the second reading reminds us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize.” I have felt deep gratitude for this truth over my lifetime. My ministry to the People of God in parish and diocesan leadership roles has often left me feeling bound before the authority figures with Jesus, in an effort to heed the still, small voice of Spirit in the call to serve. We undoubtedly feel the limits of our ability to respond freely to the needs of our clients, our sisters and brothers, as we face societal laws which often actively hinder mercy.
Ultimately, we believe the promise that the suffering we witness or experience as we stand beneath the cross, is not the last word. Jesus gifts us to one another as he struggles to articulate what is most important: Behold your mother, Behold your son. Subtle as a breeze, we hear the words of Isaiah’s song again…”because of his affliction, he will see the light of days…” and hope swells our hearts as we head into the Triduum.
Monique Jacobs serves joyfully as Director of Mission and Identity. After 40+ years in active professional ministry, Monique has made a home at Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada. She writes, teaches, gives retreats, supports seekers through spiritual direction, and offers weekly spiritual conversations through her YouTube channel, Finding God in All Things.