A crucifix is displayed during the Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 10, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: Time to Pause and Reflect upon the Cross

0

Among the memories from my childhood of these sacred days is that of Good Friday afternoon. Since my dad always had to work and my mom did not drive a car, the five of us kids typically stayed home on this day. But it was not like any other day. For three hours, we embraced the stillness of this day. We did not play or watch TV. We simply embraced the moment knowing that Jesus was dying at this time. That memory sticks to my heart like a magnet.

On this Good Friday, weeks into the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the pandemic, there will be much quiet reflection taking place in the comfort of people’s homes. We knew early on, before the church buildings were closed, that the veneration of the cross would not involve any kind of touch so as not to become a contagion of the virus. Who would have ever imagined that because of the pandemic we would be at this sad moment when we cannot even be in church together to even see the cross?

“Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the Savior of the world.” These are the very words we priests chant three times on Good Friday afternoon as we process into the sanctuary with the cross before the public veneration.

Although we are unable to be in church today, this is the day for all of us to pause and to behold the cross. The actual Sign of the Cross that frames our prayer and reminds us again and again of God’s love and presence in our lives is one simple but profound way to behold the tree of life. In our haste and given how often we make this sign, we can easily just go through the motions. What is meant to be so sacred can become so profane and insincere.

Beyond this sacred act, there is the crucifix, which likely is found somewhere in every Christian home. Many of us even wear this image around our necks. Today is a day for all of us to pause and “respect” it. The word “respect” means “to look again.” Today we look again, not just with our eyes, but with our hearts.

As we prayerfully gaze at this instrument of death, which becomes the vehicle of our salvation, we know it rather shamefully that “Yet it was our pain that he bore, our sufferings he endured. … But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity” (Is 53:4-5). We also know that through it all Jesus never stopped loving.

In morning prayer from Good Friday, there is an intercession that we prayed. It states, “Christ our Savior, on the cross you embraced all time with your outstretched arms, unite God’s scattered children in your kingdom of salvation.”

Although we are scattered like never before on this Good Friday, Jesus seeks to unite us through his love. His arms are outstretched for our time and place. All we can say is what we say every time we pray the Stations of the Cross: “We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 15 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

 
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe now.
Send feedback to us at PriestFeedback@osv.com