How HARD must it have been for any of Christ’s supporters to remain at the foot of His cross during the crucifixion?
And how EASY must it must have been for those in the surrounding mob to join in the mocking of and hatred towards Christ as they crucified him?
To this day, it can be similarly easy to join in when coworkers or classmates are bulling or picking on a peer. That part of human nature hasn’t changed much since Christ’s time. You can see it in even the youngest groups of children at school.
Christ was crucified with a criminal at each side. He was, in the eyes of those crucifying Him, no better than the criminals hanging next to him. The soldiers jeered at Him, tormented and teased Him, and He still did His father’s work. Not only that, but He asked the Lord to forgive the two thieves hanging by His side.
It can be difficult to stand up for someone who is being picked on or bullied. Even harder would be for a victim to pray for their tormentors. Christ’s manner of death wasn’t just a string of events, it was the plan of God. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
“Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan, as St. Peter ex- plains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost:
"This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God...” (599).
It must have been such a torment to Peter to know he lacked the courage to stand with Christ, physically and then later verbally when questioned on multiple occasions. It’s lucky for us, how- ever, that like Christ giving Peter the opportunity to make up for his denials by having Peter pro- fess his love for Christ, we are given the opportunity to make up for our shortcomings through the sacrament of reconciliation.
It’s difficult even in today’s day to go against the grain and speak up when someone is doing something wrong, especially if you’re in the minority. While we have the opportunity to ask for forgiveness, let us pray for the strength and courage to stand up for what is right, especially in the hardest times.
1. Is there a recent time you can recall in which you should have spoken up for a friend, family member, or coworker? What could you have done or said differently to stand up for this person?
2. Try to remember that God has a plan for everyone, and for everything. When life stresses get overwhelming or anxiety-inducing, what can you do to remind yourself to let God’s love take over and trust in His plan?