“What do I do with this pain in my heart?” That has been my prayer this week. My heart is broken in so many places over the wounds of my Church, my brothers and sisters, and my own. I have found myself going from shock, to numb confusion, to anger, to sadness. That is where I am right now… and I want to move on from here. I do not like feeling sad. I bring my pain to prayer, in the hopes that He will tell me what I need to do to make this pain go away. But instead I hear Him say, “Do you also want to leave?” (Jn 6:67)
Some might take these words literally, as in “Do you want to leave the Church?”, but that is not what I hear Him asking me. I see Him up on the Cross, with Mary and John at His feet. Although most of the disciples left Him, He still loved them. He knew the pain was too much for them and that they were afraid. So here I stand with a decision to make. Do I want to run away from the pain and distract myself with stuff, or do I want to stay with Him?
Jesus is on the Cross right now, suffering for His Bride, His Church, and this is where I am called to be…wherever He is. He is with me in my pain, as I am with Him in His pain. I bring to Him the pain of those who feel they cannot stay. The amazing thing is that the moment I say “yes, I will stand here, beneath the Cross with Mary,” the pain is transformed. It goes from feeling oppressive and pointless to hopeful and dare I say, joyful. “For godly sorrow produces a salutary repentance without regret, but worldly sorrow produces death.” (2 Cor 7:10) The pain I felt before, I could not endure for long, but this one, sweetened by the love of His Presence, feels bearable. It is as if the second I looked at Him, He picked up my burden and placed it on His shoulders.
So, I choose to stay. I choose again to believe that His promises are true. I know that through the mystery of our Communion, the tears I shed for my Church are “stored and recorded” (Ps 56:9), and that my suffering is not wasted. As long as I remain in Him, this time of suffering will bear fruit. (Jn 15:5) I do not know how long He will ask me to stay in this Good Friday. It may be a few more hours, it may be a few more days, or maybe more. I pray for the wisdom and the courage to always answer, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (Jn 6:68)