April 6, 2018 // Diocese

Easter reflections

By Kathy O’Connell, co-founder, The Healing Voices Magazine, Chicago, Illinois

I often place myself in Jesus’ position, as he was betrayed by a loved one, carried His Cross, even fell three times on His journey leading Him to a crucial death. It saddens me over and over to know our Jesus endured such pain, and endured it all for us.

I imagine how He felt shamed and betrayed, and how He felt as His own mother wept for Him as she helplessly watched them crucify her own Son. Then you have the Simon and Veronica and the other women who joined in to help Jesus, one way or another.

Yes, we all know the story. Year after year, we listen to it and join Jesus in His walk to die. Yet, how often do we really listen in our minds and hearts? How often do we take the time to wonder who we would be if we were one of His disciples? Would we stop to help, or betray Him due to our own fear?

Every year of my life I’ve heard this story, due to my Catholic upbringing. Often, as a child and adult, it has brought tears to my eyes. Jesus, an innocent man, humbled Himself. Without holding back, He suffered His pain for our sins.

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse in my own family and in the Church, which is the place I went to often to pray to God and to open my ears and heart, hoping to hear Him answering me. I carried my cross as an innocent child, never seeking out help in fear of many things. However, today, many years later, I still am carrying the same cross. The difference now is I have help. I have my Simons and my Veronicas, who are there guiding me on my journey to my someday-resurrection from this harm done to me. Yes, I continue to fall, but, with the help of these good Samaritans, I trust enough to let them lift me back up.

I felt the betrayal of those who should have cared for me and loved me. I am aware of the wonderful people God has put with me now on this journey. And I’m grateful. So very grateful. Unlike Jesus, who forgives easily and endured His pain quietly and continued to be humble, I find myself always wanting to give up, feeling too tired to continue on, and still feeling hurt and angry toward those who betrayed me. I feel fear and shame and confusion, and I question often when and if my resurrection will ever take place. I can relate to Jesus: feeling betrayed and pain and fear by of those I knew well and trusted. I just am amazed how He carried on and, in the end, triumphed and rose with new life, joy and love.

My journey isn’t easy. I believe all of us are given difficult journeys to live. Yet, one thing we can be sure of, is through our darkness, our trials and tribulations, Jesus has never and will never abandon us. Our faith in Him can continue to bring us hope. With hope, strength, courage and especially help from our good Samaritans, who remain with us carrying these crosses, we can trust that our resurrection, like Jesus’ resurrection, will come.

Copyright © 2017 The Healing Voices Magazine – thehealingvoices.com – and Co-Founder Kathy O’Connell. Reprinted with permission.

Call to prayer

Join the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in dedicating Friday, April 13, to prayer and sacrifice for this intention: “We pray that God may grant those affected by abuse in any way the courage to tell their story and seek healing.”

More about the call to prayer is available at usccb.org/pray.

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