Was There Anything We Could Have Done? A Good Friday Reflection

From the Syrian town of Khan Shekihoun last week came the story of a woman who gave her name as Om Ahmed.   In her deepest sorrow she said, “If the world wanted to stop this they would have done so by now.  One more chemical attack in a town the world hasn’t heard of won’t change anything.”  Her voice cracking, “I’m sorry, my son died yesterday,” she said. “I have nothing left to say to the world.” (Washington Post, April 5, 2017)

With Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and all who are standing at the foot of the cross this day grieving the violence and death of our children, there is nothing left to say.  The nausea, the void, the vulnerability, the emptiness pervade our bodies.

Eli Wiesel, in the book Night tells the story in the concentration camp.

“One day,” writes Wiesel, “as we returned from work, we saw three gallows… The SS [guards] seemed more preoccupied, more worried, than usual. To hang a child in front of thousands of onlookers was not a small matter.
The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was pale, almost calm, but he was biting his lips as he stood in the shadow of the gallows… ‘Where is merciful God, where is He?’ someone behind me was asking. At the signal, the three chairs were tipped over… Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive… The child, too light, was still breathing… And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death…

Behind me, I heard the same man asking: ‘For God’s sake, where is God?’

And from within me, I heard a voice answer; ‘Where is He? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…’”

On Good Friday, we see Jesus broken and emptied for the world.  There is God (or the Crucified One) on the gallows, among grieving mothers, and torn creation. 

We ask ourselves: was there anything we could have done?