Welcome back! Yesterday I felt inspired to write blog posts on what Holy Week can teach us about relationships. Click here to see what Holy Thursday has to offer. Now we move to Good Friday, the day we celebrate the passion and death of our Lord.
Here is what I think Good Friday can teach us about relationships:
- Surrender to the will of God: So the person you thought liked you doesn’t, or the relationship you thought was going to last forever only lasted two months, or the proposal you thought was going to happen two years ago is still a long time coming, or you just found out you have to move from the house you thought you and your spouse would live in for years to come. “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” Jesus asked in our Gospel reading tonight. Christ could have prevented all of the suffering that He was going to endure. Yet He didn’t, because He knew that it was the Father’s will. In our relationships, we often make our own plans. We have our own ideas of how we want our lives and our relationships to unfold. We set up expectations. But God’s plan is not our plan, it is actually far greater than any of our plans. The way in which God makes His plan unfold before us may not always be enjoyable or what we want, but we have to trust that the end result will be more glorious than we could ever imagine. So pick up your cross, and follow Christ.
- Fall, get back up and keep going: Three times Christ fell, and three times He got back up and kept moving. We all fall. Relationships are not easy; we are all broken, selfish and lazy human beings. As much as we may love our beloved and try to do what is best for them, we still fall. In my relationship, I fall daily: I fail to pray for my boyfriend, I fail to make time to talk to him on the phone at night, I fail to love him in the way that he deserves, I fail to be gentle and kind when I’m tired and stressed, and so many other things. But Christ teaches us to get back up and try again. Christ could carry on because He relied on the strength of the Father, and if we do the same then God will not leave us wanting. He will give us the strength to try again, to love again.
- Be humble and go to Confession: But when you do fall in your relationship, and fall seriously, have the humility to admit it. Have the humility to ask for forgiveness, both from your beloved and from God. Remember that Christ died for the forgiveness of sins, and He made that forgiveness readily available in the sacrament of confession. The second reading tonight (Heb 4: 14-16, 5:7-9) said “Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” When you fall, run to Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and encourage your beloved to go with you. Not only can Christ reconcile you to Himself, but can help reconcile the hurts between you and your beloved as well. I can honestly tell you that the grace received from confession has literally worked wonders in Timothy and I’s relationship. Without the grace and healing this sacrament offers, I think we would have hurt each other beyond repair by now. But Christ’s love is bigger than any of our sins and He has saved our relationship time and time again. Which leads me to my next point…
- Forgive each other: When your beloved sins in some way that directly hurts you, this may feel like the lashes Christ bore in His scourging. When they fall in some major way, you may feel the weight of the cross hit your back. But remember, if Christ can forgive your beloved for the wrongs they have done against you…Christ who actually did suffered and die on the cross to save your beloved from their sins…then you can too. Once a wrong has been committed against you, apologized for, and reconciled with God…let it go. Be gentle with your beloved, bearing their faults along with yours as Christ bore the cross.
- Sacrifice yourself for the other: Christ literally laid down His life for His beloved. He poured out everything He was, sacrificed it all out of love and died. Christ made the ultimate gift of Himself on the cross. And we are all called to do the same in our relationships. You love like Christ loved every time you put the good of your beloved before your own and lead them closer to Christ and away from sin. You sacrifice yourself every time you put their best interest before your own selfish desires. You lay down your life every time you change a plan, offer to clean or make dinner, make the hard choices about chastity or put your own needs for attention and affection aside. You make a gift of yourself every time you love them emotionally and physically in the way that you are called. Christ calls us to imitate His love and embrace the cross, to seek ways to sacrifice for our beloved and to ask God to lead us toward the redeeming love that he showed on the cross.
- Entrust yourselves to Mary: “Behold, your mother,” said Jesus from the cross. As Mary stood at the foot of the cross as her Son was crucified, Jesus gave her to all of us as our Mother. He entrusted us to her care, knowing that she would lead us back to Himself. Therefore, entrust not only your own self to Mary but also your relationship. Let Mary reveal to you the heart of her Son, let her show you how to live in a holy relationship and ask her to intercede for you and your beloved. I recommend doing a Marian Consecration; even if you have already done one yourself, try doing it again together and open your hearts to how Mary wants to work in and through your relationship.
My boyfriend and I often say “Our entire relationship should look like Good Friday.” For us this means that every day we are called to bear the hardships of love and sin, forgive ourselves and one another, and most importantly, love each other as Christ loved by dying to ourselves for the good of the other, through sacrifice, so that we might lead one another closer to Heaven.
To me there is no better image that reflects this call to imitate Christ’s sacrifice in our relationships than this one: