Kaleidoscope Reflections on Good Friday

The Pieta Good Friday

It’s funny how God speaks to us in different ways at different times in our lives. Over the years, as I have reflected on Scripture, I’ve been struck by how a passage or verse meant one thing to me as a teenager, another as a young bride, and something altogether differently now that I am a mother. I suppose this will continue to be true as I age and mature – each season of my life will hold a specific key to unlocking varied meanings of Scripture again and again. In a way, it’s like the words of the Bible are colorful bits of glass at the bottom of a kaleidoscope. As the cylinder turns, the glass shifts and tumbles into different positions, revealing brilliantly unique patterns but all comprised of the same bits of glass.

One such kaleidoscope moment for me was during Lent of 2013. Superman was just weeks from his Baptism and entry into the Church at Easter, and on one of the last nights of class, our parish hosted a movie night for the RCIA candidates. There was popcorn, snacks, drinks, and fellowship before the showing, but it wasn’t a feel-good flick. It was the Passion of the Christ. Superman had never seen it, and I’d only seen it twice before. The year it came out, 2004, I was in college and went to see it in the theater with some friends. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the gut-wrenching horror that I inevitably experienced. The blood and the gore weren’t what horrified me, though. It was the fact that this REALLY happened – this wasn’t a dramatization of the facts. These were the facts. Mel Gibson used the Gospels and the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, an 18th century mystic, as the historical basis for his production. What made it all worse was that I did this to Him. My sin. My pride. My gossip. My gluttony. My anger. My lies. It may as well have been me swinging the whip or jeering while one of my buddies drove the Crown of Thorns into His sacred head. It was a devastating thing to watch, and to know. To know that you were complicit in that death.

I wasn’t prepared for what happened when the kaleidoscope shifted nine years later, when I found myself in the RCIA screening. This time, I was a mother of four. This time, the glass shards fell into place and unlocked the Passion of Jesus for me again – through the eyes of His Mother. Oh my goodness. Watching the movie, start to finish, I placed myself in Mary’s shoes. Oh, her mama heart! How it ached when He was arrested. Wouldn’t I have run in before Caiaphas, demanding that my son be released? Wouldn’t I have thrown myself in between the soldiers and my baby boy as they beat him senseless with their whips of leather and chunks of stone? The scene where she sops up the Precious Blood of her son after the scourging was almost too much for me to bear. It affected me more than the actual scourging scene, I think. Wouldn’t I have smacked Simon of Cyrene upside his reluctant head when he hesitated at helping my son with his heavy burden? Wouldn’t I have raged and clawed and lunged at the barbaric monsters nailing my son’s precious hands and feet, the same ones I kissed after bathtime giggles in his childhood, into the wood of the cross? This Cajun momma would have lost her dang mind, time and again, if it were my son on the way to Calvary. He’s innocent! Leave my boy alone! Can’t you see he’s in pain?! LEAVE HIM ALONE!

But Mary didn’t do any of those things. Her heart was breaking, but she recalled the words of Simeon – that her son was destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel, and that her own heart would be pierced by a sword.

Last year at some point, the kaleidoscope shifted again as I studied the beautiful Pieta statue in our Adoration chapel. I realized that I did this to her. I caused this pain to my mama Mary – to another mother. My sin. My pride. My gossip. My gluttony. My anger. My lies. It may as well have been me swinging the whip to scourge her Son, or jeering while one of my buddies drove the Crown of Thorns into His sacred head that she used to kiss each night before bed. It was a devastating thing to become aware of, and to know. To know that I was complicit in the murder of her Son.

Today, on the day of his death, put yourself in Our Lady’s shoes. Accompany her Son to the judge, and down the Via Dolorosa, and all the way to Calvary. How would you feel? What would you do? Ask her to give you her heart and mind, to transform your love for her Son into a blazing inferno – a fire of Divine love. Beg her to pray for you, that you avoid sin for the ugliness that it is. Draw close to her as she mourns her son and holds his broken body. Look into her eyes. Thank her for her sacrifice. Thank her for her fiat. Behold your mother.

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