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How Would You Answer?

It is accomplished (John 19:30) Good Friday

Recently, the New York Times published an article (by author Pico Iyer), entitled "The Value Of Suffering." In the article, the author recites a dismal litany of bloodshed, disease and disaster that, day-after-day, people the world over are presently enduring. And then he wonders: "Does the torrent of suffering ever abate? Can one possibly find any point in suffering?"-1 And if we were to read no further than the title of the article, that short phrase, "the value of suffering," is enough to get us thinking about the central point of this day -- Good Friday.

The Latin word for “suffering” (passio) gives rise to our word “passion.” And so in this sense of the word, we can say the opposite of “suffering” is “apathy.” And the Passion Of The Lord is our constant reminder that we must never be apathetic in our response to the suffering of others.

As a people rooted in God's Rule of Love, our response to the suffering of others must be “compassion.” And it is in this context that we begin to see, in the words of that author, the "value" of suffering. The famous French writer, Paul Claudel, once said that "Christ did not come to do away with suffering; He did not come to explain it; He came to fill it with His presence."

Christ came to take up human suffering, to wear human suffering as a garment, to identify with human suffering with His total Being. All human suffering is a participation in the Mystery of Good Friday. On the night of Good Friday, darkness filled the earth. The disciples, feeling lonely and abandoned, desperately questioned each other about the day's sorry events: What has happened to the Master's dream? What has happened to the Master's promise? What has happened to us -- and why? They were afflicted with that most devastating malady: the loneliness that strikes when one feels abandoned by God -- the loneliness that cuts into the very depths of one's being. Their loneliness was overwhelming.

What is happening in the Crucifixion story -- what is happening on the [...]

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There’s not as much status being a member of the Communist Party in Russia as there used to be. A reporter on C-SPAN (the Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network) related this story recently: “To encourage membership recruitment in the Communist Party, here’s the deal. If you bring in one new member, you don’t have to pay party dues for a year.” “If you bring five new members, you can leave the country.” “If you bring in 10 new members, you are awarded a framed certificate that says you never were a member of the Communist Party!”

Preaching

A preacher, known for long and boring sermons, had been into a particularly tedious one for nearly an hour, when he stopped to scold his congregation. ”I know you think my sermons are long, but I’ve got something important to tell you. Now, I don’t mind you looking at your watches while I’m preaching, but I want you to know that I resent you shaking them to see if they’re still running. Jones, L.

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”Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ’You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ “ (Matthew. 14:31). The story is told of a monastery in Portugal, perched high on a three-hundred-foot cliff. The monastery can only be reached by a terrifying ride in a swaying basket. The basket is pulled with a single rope by several strong men, perspiring under the strain of the fully loaded basket. One American tourist got nervous half way up the cliff. He noticed that the rope seemed very old and frayed. He asked, “How often do you change the rope?” The monk who was in charge said, “Whenever it breaks!” Hostetler, M.J. “Introducing the Sermon” (Adapted).

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