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BY JOY WAMBEKE
Last Good Friday, a friend of mine joined a group of
Catholics holding an all-day prayer vigil in front of a Planned Parenthood
abortion mill. A priest led them in praying rosaries for an end to abortion.
The site was on a busy urban street. Lots of people
streamed by, both on foot and in vehicles. As expected, the prayer group
stirred up some strong reactions from passing cars and pedestrians. Some honked
their approval or gave the thumbs-up sign. Others jeered or taunted.
Among the most vocal reactions witnessed that day, one
stood out. As the group walked and prayed, a man on foot approached the priest.
“You pedophile,” he sneered. “You have no right to be here. Why don’t you go
back to wherever it is you came from and leave kids alone?”
After the man left, my friend, having regained his
composure, approached Father and apologized for the incident, saying he was
sorry the priest had to be singled out for such anger.
Father replied: “No, don’t apologize. I consider it a
privilege to experience our Lord’s suffering as he did on Good Friday.”
My friend stood before me as he recounted the holy
priest’s reply, mouth open, eyes wide. He couldn’t believe how quick the priest
was to find real beauty in such an ugly situation.
We live in a day in which pleasure and comfort are held
up as the only sensible aims of life. Legions of men and women work their
fingers to the bone, sometimes sacrificing a meaningful family life along the
way, just so they can retire into a life of total ease a few years earlier.
Our consumer culture keeps us in a perpetual state of
desire for “the good life.” Food advertisements promise us that we “deserve”
their delicious products. Women are encouraged to splurge on expensive
cosmetics because they’re “worth it.” Men are goaded into buying fancy new cars
in order to prove they’ve “arrived.”
It’s no wonder we have a hard time equating joy and glory
with suffering, misunderstanding and pain.
Alas, it is always wrong for a Christian to despair. And,
sure enough, signs abound that all is not lost.
For example, Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ has taken in more than $370 million in
the United States alone, making it the highest-grossing R-rated film ever made
and the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time, period. Millions of Christians
around the world believe it’s the best Holy Week meditation ever set to
Remember the scene in which Mary runs to console Jesus as
he buckles under the crushing weight of the cross? He turns, lifts his face to
his mother’s and exclaims: “See, Mother, I make all things new!”
How was it that Our Lord could choose faith, hope and
love even while enduring unfathomable suffering on behalf of our sin-sickened
The answer is found in the words he spoke to his Father
back in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before: “Not my will, but yours be
done” (Luke 22:42). Jesus knew that, if he just did what God the Father had
asked, all would be well for all eternity — no matter how bleak things looked
(and felt) here and now on earth.
So, too, the priest being reviled while doing God’s will
at the abortion mill last Good Friday.
So, too, you and me the rest of our lives?
Joy Wambeke writes from
St. Paul, Minnesota.