30 March 2018
Way of the cross
Pre-synodal meeting with young people
Conclusive meditation by prefect Kevin Farrell
Dear young people,
This evening, we have retraced the painful journey towards the death on the cross that Jesus lived through in the last hours of his earthly life.
And we reflected on the human pain that marks the existence of so many of our brothers and sisters, especially young people. This is pain that we often do not want to see. Faced with so much human suffering, we frequently turn our eyes away because we do not want to be disturbed in our tranquility. Looking at suffering, in fact, forces us to get out of our routine and to think more deeply about what really matters in life.
In the face of a child sold as a slave, an innocent woman who is the victim of violence, seeing whole families destroyed by wars, young lives devastated by addiction, in the face of this and much more, we are all deeply shaken and begin hearing a voice that comes from within, asking us, “What really matters life? How are you living? For who? For what?” “Is the whole purpose of your existence in buying a new jacket, or new shoes, or a new smartphone? Are you living just waiting for the next night of weekend entertainment?”
This voice of the soul, awakened by the cry of innocent pain, challenges us and asks us: “And if instead of losing yourself in trivial things, would you live your life as a gift to others? And what if you were to spend your gifts, your energy, your time to make the lives of others more beautiful, happier? And if you stopped being concerned only about yourself, your moods, your physical appearance, and instead began to look with compassionate eyes toward many of your friends who are in pain? Those friends who suffer from loneliness, from the lack of closeness and human affection, from the material and spiritual poverty in which they are obliged to live.”
This is the grace we receive from looking courageously at human pain. The practice of the Via Crucis is probably not familiar to many of you. The first reaction that it provokes may be indifference, if not even annoyance. Someone will have wondered: “Why must we think about Christ’s pain and about the sorrow in the world?” This personal encounter with Christ’s pain and with that of other people is very useful, above all for ourselves! The cry of our suffering brothers and sisters, in fact, calls into question the distracted way in which we live and the flatness of the gestures and the empty words of our daily routine. It questions us. It urges us to search for what is truly essential in our lives and what makes them full and fruitful.
This is exactly what Jesus Christ did. The Son of God did not turn his head away, he did not stay peaceful and tranquil in the bliss of his divine existence, but he looked with compassion at human pain. And he voluntarily chose to take upon himself the physical and spiritual evil that afflicts all people.
The true miracle that happened in Christ’s passion is that he united all the weight of sin and all this human suffering with the divine love that fills his person. Now, through his resurrection, this mysterious union between human suffering and divine love has become a source of grace for all of us.
In fact, after the death and resurrection of the Son of God, every person who suffers can experience Christ’s closeness and love in his or her pain, because that pain, from then on, is “inhabited” by Christ. In a certain sense, Jesus has taken all human pain and “filled” it with his divine presence. And, so, every human pain, like that of Christ, has a certain salvific value for ourselves and for the entire world. Many saints have said that the world is sustained and protected from total destruction precisely by the suffering of the most destitute because in them Christ continues to suffer, to intercede for the world, and to pour on it the mercy and forgiveness of God. This is one of the fruits of the incarnation. Christ, in a certain sense, “became incarnate” in every human pain. Every person who suffers can really feel Jesus’ nearness. Suffering is no longer empty! Suffering can become an opportunity to meet the Savior and to intercede for the whole world.
Dear young people, looking to Jesus crucified, we ask this evening for the grace to be touched by the love of Christ who has not abandoned us in our misery and our sins but has offered us forgiveness and restored our hope by giving his life for us.
We also ask for the grace to be moved by the pain we see in so many of our brothers and sisters because this leads us to be compassionate with everyone and to spend our lives with generosity to alleviate the suffering of others. Finally, we ask in our prayer that a special grace be given to many who are oppressed by pain today, so that in these moments of trial they may experience the closeness and consolation of the Son of God, the humble suffering servant who draws close to every afflicted woman, man, adolescent, and child, offering them spiritual consolation, inner strength, light, and hope in the eternal recompense.
(23 March 2018)