A sense of loss brought about by illness and death is undoubtedly a difficult emotion to bear. We usually find consolation from our grief in being able to personally bid goodbye to our loved ones and see them during their last moments in life. However, this situation has changed amid the Corona virus pandemic that has wreaked havoc throughout the world.
We heard numerous stories of patients dying in isolation rooms without their family members around. Imagine the pain of being hospitalized and of dying alone. Imagine the sadness of family members who might be forbidden from a hospital visit because of the high risk of contagion.
This situation is only one of the many hardships that we endure as a result of the pandemic.
The sufferings of Jesus that we commemorate this Good Friday becomes closer to our collective experience as a society. Jesus relates to our sufferings as much as we relate to His. Jesus died on the cross, feeling isolated and abandoned.
In 1986, Dr. William Edwards, a pathologist on the staff of Mayo Clinic, Minnesota did a study titled, “The physical death of Jesus.” The author gave a detailed description of various crucifixion practices. These included the carrying of heavy crosses and the putting of iron spikes into writs and feet above the toes. Once crucified, the victim was exposed to other elements, including heat and insects, which would dig into the open wounds or the eyes, ears, or nose.
Beyond all those excruciating pain, crucifixion also caused interference with normal respiration, particularly exhalation. Adequate exhalation requires lifting the body by pushing up on the feet. That is hard to do while a person is on the cross. Since speech occurs during exhalation, the seven last words spoken by Jesus must have been particularly difficult and painful.
Jesus did not only experience physical pain but emotional distress as well. He suffered the pain of being betrayed and being denied as a friend by His closest disciples. The people who rejoiced upon His entry to Jerusalem were the same people who demanded His crucifixion.
Jesus’ pain was unbearable. One of the words He had spoken was, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why have you abandoned me?
This cry from the cross is for all of us so that we will not feel alone and abandoned. I am quite certain that Jesus has accompanied those who died in COVID isolation rooms. They did not die alone. With great hope, we continue to pray that our Divine physician will touch those who are ill and bring them to full recovery.
We are here today carrying with us our own crosses. And at times we might feel forsaken. We feel alone.
At this time of great distress, we may feel like we are in that same place as Jesus’ disciples. They felt a sense of uncertainty while Jesus was suffering on the cross.
We do not know what the future lies for us amid this unnerving time. When is the quarantine going to end? When are we going back to normalcy? What happens after this pandemic? There are a lot of uncertainties up in the air. We don’t have the answers.
But our assurance during our darkest moment is the truth that our loving and merciful God who raised himself from the dead will also share His triumph to humanity. He will show us our version of the resurrection.
The message is clear. Surrender. Let us entrust our pains to the Lord. He was forsaken to let us know that we are not alone, especially in times of great trials.