One of the habits I've picked up from a friend not known for political correctness is to stop myself when I am on the verge of getting upset over something relatively small and remind myself when it is one of those "first world white people problems." You know the ones like standing in the grocery story being upset surrounded by food but not seeing your brand of peanut butter or fat-free milk.
Tonight we will gather in our church's and we will read the story of the crucifixion. We will, as we should, try to find some connection between the gospel and our own lives. There is, however, a danger in this.
In reality most of us have pretty good lives. When I am honest with myself I know that there is nothing in life that I need that I don't have: food, clothing, shelter, family and friends, work that I love, freedom and safety,... So when we look at the cross of Jesus tonight and think about the crosses in our own life, let's be careful not to exaggerate. Yes, I have aches and pains from my CP, but it's not life threatening, or even intolerable. At most it's an annoyance.
This week militants from Somalia rampaged through a university in Kenya. The separted the Molems from the Chirstians and killed the Christians, 147 people whose earthly lives came to an abrupt end. These were true martyrs, not people who killed for there faith but people whose lives were taken because of their faith.
If you can read this blog chances are, like myself, you have the privilege of living in splendid isolation from this kind of violence. We can get in our cars and go to church whenever we please. Most of us didn't earn it, we were just lucky enough to be born in places of relative freedom and safety. When I was growing up my parents rarely ever locked the house. Yes, I know there is always some Chicken Little screaming the sky is falling and trying to stir up panic. Yes, there is sin and evil in our world and we have reason for concern. But we should be careful not to overstate the problems in our lives.
Perhaps on this Good Friday, rather than focusing on our own relatively small crosses, we should turn our focus outward, to the crosses of others, to those who face crosses that we can hardly imagine. My prayers today are turned towards friends with a seriously sick child, and worse than the illness is the waiting for a diagnosis. Nothing is harder than a parent, helplessly watching their child suffer. Compared to that I have no crosses. All I have on this Good Friday are reasons for gratitude. In my life it is truly a good Friday.
As we meditate on the suffering of Christ,let us turn our hearts and minds to the suffering of our brothers and sisters in our own neighborhood and around the world. And let us never cease to be thankful for everything and everyone that we have in our lives. Even as he hung upon the cross Christ was focused on others, the thieves hanging with him, his mother and John, even those who crucified him. May we be that other-centered.
NB. the term third world is not a ranking. It is a term from the Cold War used to designate those countries not aligned with either the US or the USSR.