“Good Friday” – To Jesus’ friends and followers, there was nothing good about that Friday. The week had started off well. On Sunday, Jesus had entered Jerusalem with a celebration and He spent the week proclaiming the message of His Kingdom to all who would listen. Jesus and His friends even enjoyed the Passover meal the night before. But sometime during the early morning hours of that fateful Friday, everything changed.
Before the sun even rose, as Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was betrayed by one of His friends, arrested and all His friends and followers scattered in the darkness.
Peter followed at a distance as Jesus was led away to the religious council who proceeded to falsely accuse Him of blasphemy, slap, and spit and call Him terrible names. Before Peter realized what was happening, he had three times denied even knowing Jesus just as Jesus said he would. Peter broke down in shame as he watched his Lord being taken to the governor to be sentenced.
Shame! A painful feeling brought about by a strong sense of guilt, embarrassment or unworthiness. Peter knew the word well; it must have been a constant companion of his for the remainder of his life. Isn’t it true for each of us? Aren’t there moments in our lives that because of our choices and decisions have caused that feeling of shame? What causes that feeling of shame? Fear! The fear of the unknown; fear of punishment; the fear of being wrong.
Fear makes us do things, like Peter, that we never expect. Peter’s fear prompted him to deny and abandon Jesus. When we put ourselves in his sandals, we admit we would most likely have done the same thing.
This brings us to a recent time in our lives when we, through fear, deny and abandon someone we love.
Our mother (Mother-in-law), Anna, is 97 years old, and lives alone at home most of the time. My sisters and I rotate evenings with her since she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. She knows, but denies this and insists on remaining in her home. We all support this and do our best to keep her at home, with a solemn promise that she will never have to leave. But time can change our plans for the future. Mom’s day program closed last month due to the COVID 19 VIRUS Pandemic. Between physical therapists and home health aides the threat of contracting this virus became a reality. In a 24 hour time frame we were notified that there was one opening at a nursing facility and she was eligible for a room. We had to make a quick decision. Do we continue to keep our promise to her or do we place her in a safer environment?
Like Peter, our fear prompts us to make a decision that will make Mom feel that we have abandoned her, that we denied her wishes. But our hearts tell us that she would be safer with 24 hour nursing care. Seems like an easy decision, well, it wasn’t! But God, in His goodness, let us know that we made the right choice by blessing us with a gift.
One day, while shopping for groceries, we met a parishioner in need of a favor. She was completely out of a certain paper product and could only buy one package according to the store rules. She asked us to buy a second package for her. We were more than happy to do so, knowing that we would be helping a family of five.
While waiting to check out, we discussed the trials of the pandemic. We learned that she was a Hospice Nurse at the same Nursing Home as Mom. Now Mom, since she has been a resident of the Home, had no room phone and was unable to receive visitors, she was isolated from family and friends. The very next day, this wonderful parishioner visited Mom and used her own phone to enable Mom to face time us. What a gift! God is good!
Jesus never promised that He would make life easy for us. But He did promise that He would be with us always:
An Easter Prayer
Lord, thank you for loving us more than life itself. God, life is hard and uncertain. So many decisions, so much pain and heartache seem to surround us. And yet, knowing this, You still willingly gave up your life and became God with us and God who rescues us.
Today and every day, help us to fix our hearts and our minds on You. And as we do, please give us more of Your joy, hope and peace. And we ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.