Wednesday, 13 April 2011
The Archbishop of Yorks 6th Lent reflection
I am often asked why a loving God allows suffering in the world. These people have in many cases themselves undergone great suffering - losing someone they love, facing serious illness or being made redundant.
There isn't a simple answer to this but I believe in Holy Week, we glimpse something of what suffering means when we look at the Cross of Jesus.
Holy Week is the most solemn week of the Christian year. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey. He was greeted with joy by the crowds as their promised leader. Yet just a few days later, on Good Friday, he suffered an agonising death on a Cross, hanging between two criminals and abandoned by most of his disciples.
Jesus trusted in God's love and faithfulness throughout his life. On Good Friday, Jesus showed us what the love of God means through his death and sacrifice. Despite having faced the betrayal of his disciples and trial, torture and mockery at the hands of his enemies, he cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing".
We too often experience the darkness of Good Friday in our lives. Like Mary Magdalene, Jesus' mother Mary and John the disciple at the foot of his Cross, we too know the agony of waiting and wondering what the suffering means. Yet through his death, Jesus shows us that God loves us so much that he is willing to do anything for us to bring us back to him, even to die for us. That suffering did have meaning for at the end Jesus cried out with triumph - "It is accomplished". As Archbishop Michael Ramsey said, "It is in the Cross that God discloses the essence of what it is to be God". God's power revealed in the Cross of Jesus Christ is self-sacrifice and not self-assertion: the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that nothing is beyond the power of God to bring transformation.
This Holy Week, I invite you to follow Jesus even in the midst of the troubles you may face.
H/T +Sentamu Ebor