Good Friday: Our Denial of Suffering
BY ELLIE HIDALGO | April 15, 2022
Reflexión en Español
“I am not.”
I twinge each time during the Good Friday service when Peter denies being Jesus’ disciple with the words, “I am not.” Peter and Jesus have been through so much together, and yet on Good Friday Peter denies having been a close disciple. Three times Peter betrays his friend, his own integrity, and his own belief that a better world is possible.
I twinge because who could fault Peter for wanting to protect himself during a violent, vulnerable moment, when the cause he has pledged himself to appears to be unraveling completely. I twinge because I’ve been there, and I know you’ve been there. We’ve all denied Jesus hundreds of times in order to avoid suffering as a Christian.
Good Friday is raw. This day invites us to look at the suffering we deny, the suffering we can’t bear to see and feel in a world fraught with sin, death, violence, war, hate, injustice, division, poverty, and illness.
The desire to escape suffering is all too human, all too understandable. It seems impossibly difficult sometimes that God would ask us to risk our own comfort, our own security, or perhaps even our own lives to accompany others in their pain. Do you ever become frustrated with God by the amount of suffering that pleads for accompaniment in our world today? Do you ever become frustrated with yourself for resembling Peter’s pattern of denial? I know I do.
It is impossibly hard to deal with so much pain by ourselves, which is why I am grateful that our Ignatian spiritual tradition encourages us to pray for the graces we need. On Good Friday we can pray for the grace to remain at the foot of the Cross and be present with someone who suffers. We can pray for the grace of faith in the Paschal Mystery even before it unfolds.
- In what ways do you resemble Peter’s denial of suffering?
- What graces do you need to pray for to accompany someone in your life who is suffering?
Ellie Hidalgo co-directs Discerning Deacons, a project dedicated to contributing to the Catholic Church’s discernment about admitting women to the diaconate and to creating a more synodal, listening, participatory Church. Previously, she served as pastoral associate at Dolores Mission Church and School in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA. Ellie received her master’s in pastoral theology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
Ellie Hidalgo co-dirige Discerning Deacons (discerniendo el diaconado), un proyecto dedicado al discernimiento de la Iglesia Católica sobre la admisión de las mujeres al diaconado y a la creación de una Iglesia más sinodal, de escucha y participación. Anteriormente, sirvió como asociada pastoral en la Iglesia y Escuela Misión Dolores en Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA. Ellie recibió su maestría en teología pastoral de la Universidad Loyola Marymount en Los Angeles.
The grace that I need to accept the suffering of my son and his wife’s suffering of not having a child. I stand with them in their suffering and ask God to bestow on them the child that they would immensely love and care for. As their suffering moves forward, I ask God to help them accept His will and learn from this the mercy and love He gives all of us. May this suffering help them to reach out to others in their suffering and together share the graces of this suffering through Chruist Our Lord. Amen
Suffering is. Mary be with me.
I resemble Peter’s denial of Jesus when I’m hesitant to wear my cross. I feel like it might be off-putting for those who aren’t Christians. Maybe they might think I’m a fundamentalist, judgmental person who doesn’t include everyone in the circle of love. Or they might wonder why I’m wearing my religion around my neck for all to see.
Thank you for this reflection, Ellie. When I think of the grace needed to accompany one who is suffering deeply, I think of God’s words to Job and Job’s response of silence in contrast to the advice, explanation, and judgment of Job’s friends who try to offer answers. This applies to how I respond to suffering myself and with others. It seems the needed grace is a willingness to remain silent and open hearted in the presence of suffering and avoid the temptation to make meaning to quickly or to jump to finding a silver lining. This is why I love Good Friday!
Thanks Ellie. It is good to take risks. Jesus of Nazareth lived and worked for a mere 33 years. Long life or short life should not be a concern – declares Inigo.
It’s tough… I had to stay and watch my sick and dying dad. I still pray for all I need to bear my own sufferings.