It is finished. Death by violence. It wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last. Across the country each day, people are shot, stabbed, starved, frozen, they die in auto accidents, they die from disease and, for many, no one cares. Jesus said “I am thirsty.” and everyday there are many who thirst for the uncommon wine of compassion and relief from suffering.
I know a Deacon who used to serve the Roman Catholic church. When his son, the church organist, contracted HIV and developed AIDS, he and his wife were ashamed and told no one. Eventually their son died and everyone in the parish found out as word spread faster than the Good News being shouted from the roof tops. The deacon and his family felt no compassion or support from their parish nor their priest. People didn’t even want to receive Holy Communion from the Deacon because in those days, people were ignorant about how HIV was transferred. The Deacon left the Roman church and for the longest time he didn’t attend anywhere.
He and his wife are no longer ashamed of their gay son, nor of AIDS, nor that he died, nor for the secret they kept for so long. Now they are very proud because the death of their son has empowered them to do volunteer work helping men to get tested regularly and promoting safe sex. Out of their son’s death has come much life, love, support and compassion for others. They have refused to allow differences to destroy life but to save lives.
Father in heaven above, as Jesus hung on the cross, he forgave the soldiers who had crucified him, and prayed for his mother and friends. Jesus wanted all of us to be able to live forever with God, so he gave all he had for us. May our lives drink in the wine of your compassion for, in the cup of suffering are mingled all our tears and fears. Help us to pass this cup around. Amen.