“Were you there when they crucified my Lord? …Sometimes it causes me to tremble …tremble …tremble.”
Every Good Friday we commemorate the suffering of Jesus Christ in his final hours; we witness to his great suffering, his dying and death on the cross at our sacred liturgy. The spiritual hymn Were You There? is sung. We recognize those that made that long walk of suffering with him: John, the beloved apostle, Mary, his mother, her sister Mary, and Mary Magdalene.
As we sing the words of this old, well known hymn, we also recall the final goodbyes that we, too, have witnessed, the beloved people we have stayed with as they passed from this life to the next. We identify with the words of Scripture. Yes, we have made the way of the cross with Jesus and with our loved ones who suffer.
Holy Week is different this year. We make the way of the Cross with our friends and neighbors, our government leaders, our cities and towns and our health care workers. We mourn with thousands around the world who have lost friends and family members. Perhaps we are walking with those in the last hours of life as Jesus did.
We are urged by our leaders to practice social distancing, to help by staying home. It is a different way to care for the neighbor. There is another way, however, to come close to those in need. It is through prayer for the extended Body of Christ, for those who are in harm’s way. Who are these hidden people? They are the health care workers, the first responders, the government leaders, the sick, the elderly at home alone or in nursing homes. Perhaps we are the ones who are alone in our sickness. The reality, however, is that we are never alone. Christ has traveled this road before. He travels it again with us. Whatever way we commemorate Good Friday, let us walk the way of the suffering Christ present today in our city. Let us sing the old hymn, Were You There? and say, “Yes. I am there.” We walk together.
–Sr. Ellen Rose O’Connell
Sr. Ellen Rose, a former educator, administrator, director of SCNY Associates and pastoral care director, provides pastoral care services for retired Sisters of Charity in several residences and nursing homes.