There Is a song that invites me into Good Friday. It is called “Open my Eyes” by Jesse Manibusan, the refrain that captures me is..
· Open my eyes Lord, help me to see your face,
· Open my ears Lord, help me to hear your voice,
· Open my heart Lord, help me to Love like you.”
To Love Like you…
It is Good Friday. What do we see…who do we hear…who calls us to love? Good Friday is a day of remembering and entering once again, with each other, in to this deep mystery of God. We want to bring ourselves just as we are - with all our pain, and our sinfulness, our love our longing and our deep gratitude. We want to be with each other, to be opened to see the great love God has for us.
I work with survivors of Human Trafficking. They are women who have been betrayed, physically and mentally abused, stripped of their humanity, tortured, isolated and abandoned.
Listen to what they say to us: “I am here in plain sight and yet I am invisible to you I felt like no one cared-I just felt invisible.” Wendy said, “I was crying out for help but I didn’t believe anyone cared or could hear what was happening to me.” Jen said, “I have no love in my life, I don’t know what love is – my trafficker manipulated me, used and abused me. I need to learn to love again.”
In the first reading we see one who was spurned and avoided by people…one from whom people hid their faces, and turned their backs and closed their eyes they didn’t want to see this suffering servant of God. In the Gospel, we see this suffering in all its depth and rawness, we see the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, by Peter, and by the crowd, the people Jesus interacted with daily. While they knew Jesus, they were deaf to him, to his teaching, to his voice and the way he taught them to love. Jesus’s way of loving was just too hard. Too challenging this selfless, forgiving, merciful love.
As we open ourselves to see, hear and love, might we be able to recognize that merciful forgiving love in our own lives, in our family, in our neighbors, in our country and in our world?
We know, at times, the sinfulness we see in our world is just so hard to bear, and blocks us from seeing with the eyes of love. My work with women survivors of human trafficking, helps me to recognize what this lack of love looks like close to home. You may have your own examples; the immigrant families left languishing at the borders, an abusive spouse, abuse of our vulnerable earth home, Immigrant children held in cages. We see and are so aware in these examples the absence of love. Sin indeed is the absence of Love.
In a world that seems so filled with selfishness, hatred, violence, cruelty, death, destruction and total disregard for life, life in any form – how do we experience this selfless love? I have seen it in the Sisters who opened their home and said yes to bringing women survivors of human trafficking to live with them. They didn’t put their own lives and routines first, they let that go, and allowed themselves to be changed by the women survivors they lived with and whom they accompanied. We may also know this love in those who genuinely and selflessly love us, in our friends, family, community. In role models like Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King. We too have been given the potential for this kind of loving. It is in each and all of us if only we can see and recognize it.
It is such great love to give your life for another and isn’t this exactly what Jesus does, and did all through his life, selflessly giving himself away for the sake of the other. Isn’t this what Jesus invites us to? Jesus became one of us - he came to be with us and walk with us, to accompany us in all the messiness and suffering of being a human person. I find that such a great consolation – to know God is with me, with us now and always. God has given me and given us God’s own life in Jesus. A life filled with forgiving merciful love. So great a love!
Good Friday is clearly about deep faithful, steadfast, merciful love. Jesus shows us how to love, to love like God. Jesus’s whole life and ministry and death show us how to love. The question is “What do we do with so great a love?”
Joan S. Dawber, SC
Sister Joan Dawber was born in Manchester, England. After moving to the United States, she graduated from St. John’s University, Queens, NY with a BA in Human Services and an MA in Theology. She also holds a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University, Chicago, IL. A member of the Sisters of Charity Halifax for thirty-eight years, she resides in New York City
Joan worked in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, NY as a Pastoral Associate for twenty years. During this period she ministered in several Roman Catholic parishes providing services to parishioners and leadership to the surrounding community, especially attentive to poor and immigrant populations in these areas.
In 2006, she began to work full time in an initiative to combat trafficking in persons. In March 2007 she incorporated LifeWay Network, Inc. as a Not-for-Profit Corporation collaborating to combat human trafficking. Joan has recently retired from her position as Executive Director where she worked in cooperation with others to create safe homes for victims of human trafficking in the New York area and to educate the general public on the issues of human trafficking. She is the former co-chair of the New York Coalition of Religious Congregations – Stop Trafficking in Persons (NY-CRC-STOP), with a membership of 30 religious congregations, she serves on the Board of the US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) and on the Sisters of Charity Global Concerns Resource Team with a specific focus on Human Trafficking.
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