Today is a hard day for us Christians because this is the day that highlights our weaknesses and underscores our brokenness. In today’s readings, we hear about the Suffering Servant, the one who was despised and rejected, who bore our infirmities, who went silently to his death. The writer of our second reading speaks of our great High Priest who has known our weakness and who obediently suffered everything that we do, including our own death. And our Passion reading reminds us how humiliating and gruesome that death really was. Today we remember the death of Jesus Christ, perhaps the darkest hour on the face of the earth.
And it’s a dark hour that a lot of people can relate to. Many have known the hopelessness of a land scarred by war or terrorism, communities marred by crime and neglect, families damaged by poverty. Still more can remember the emotional turmoil caused by the illness or death of a loved one, or the uncertainty of losing a job or changing a career, or the constant upheaval of a marriage or family in crisis. Even closer to home, so many of us suffer the loneliness of unconfessed sin, or the constant battle of addiction. From time to time, all of us have an hour, or hours, of darkness. We all suffer the pain which afflicted our Great High Priest, the Suffering Servant.
There are very few guarantees in this world, but one of them is that we will know at some point the gut-wrenching agony of physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. And often we may know all of them all at once. That is why even though this is a hard day for us Christians to celebrate, it is a necessary one. On this day, we remember that our High Priest did not ignore our pain, nor was he ever embarrassed by it. Instead, he embraced the same pain that we suffer, enduring it all the way to the Cross. On this day, Christ unites himself perfectly with our human nature, and sanctifies it entirely, blessing it as part of God’s plan for salvation.
We are a people who eagerly yearn for the Resurrection. And that is as it should be. We must certainly hope for the great salvation that is ours, and the light and peace of God’s Kingdom. But today we remember that that salvation was bought at a very dear price, the price of the death of our Savior, our great High Priest. Today we look back on all of our sufferings of the past or the present, we even look ahead to those that may yet be. And as we sit here in God’s presence we know that we are never ever alone in those dark hours, that Christ has united himself to us in his suffering and death. May we too unite ourselves to him in our own suffering, and walk confidently through it with him, pass the gates of salvation and enter into God’s heavenly kingdom.