Reflection 10th April 2020

A Reflection for Good Friday 2020

Thérèse Hegarty 


Like millions around the world I have struggled to find meaning in the Coronavirus pandemic.  We talk about it. We think about it. We may dream about it. Meaning continues to emerge as we sleep. I woke in the middle of the night with many of these words in my head.  The imagery of the Stations of the Cross helped to frame some of my thoughts. It helped me understand what we are experiencing as a process. Jesus taught us how to live. He also taught us how to suffer. He has gone before us in all our struggles. He is with us as we struggle now.


1.         Jesus is condemned to death

Ireland is condemned to face the Coronavirus.  We know there will be suffering. We know there will be death. Everyone will be required to play a part.

China was condemned to face it first. Perhaps we are too used to hearing of tragedy in far-away places, believing that those tragedies will never reach our door. We are humbled now.

Let us remember that we are all one on this fragile planet.


2.         Jesus carries His cross.

Irish people will have to carry a cross now: the cross of fear and disorientation, the cross of illness and suffering, the cross of loss of livelihoods, the cross of separation from family members, the cross of an uncertain future.

Irish people have carried crosses before, colonisation, famine, conflict, civil war, poverty, addiction, homelessness… We have endured it.  We are still enduring it.

Let us remember that suffering is a is part of life.


3.         Jesus falls for the first time.

We struggle at first with the shock, how things changed so fast, what we have lost for now.   Perhaps we are lost to fear or anger, confusion or self-centredness for a while. It’s hard to take in. We are hard wired to survive. Indeed, we must treasure that instinct to survive.

Let us remember that our survival depends on each other, locally, nationally and globally.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.


4          Jesus meets His mother, Mary.

Our thoughts go to our loved ones, the ones we have nurtured, the ones who have nurtured us, our families, our deep friends.  We suffer when we see them suffer.  We ask ourselves if they have been exposed. Those who are vulnerable become ever more vulnerable. We carry the pain in our hearts. Perhaps it feels like a “sword of sorrow” at times.

Let us remember that through this crisis all of us will learn new skills, new levels of compassion, renewed priorities. We will grow.


5.         Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry the cross.

Some people in our community will need help: practical help with shopping, help with understanding what is happening, clear information and advice, help through isolation with phone calls and Skype calls.

Let us remember all those who may be at a loss and help them through this time.


6.         Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Our health professionals are on the front line. They are risking their own heath to care for those who are ill. Theirs is a great calling and a great effort, sometimes a great sacrifice. Let us never take a minute of their work for granted. Let us carry their other responsibilities for them while they focus on their work.

Let us remember to nurture them when we can, through this crisis and long afterwards.


7          Jesus falls for the second time.

There may be days when we cannot go on.  We get cranky and resentful. We come to the end of our tether. We long for some of the activities that have sustained us in the past.  Our energy flags. Our tempers fray.

Let us remember that it is time to rest, to be gentle with ourselves to recognise our humanity, our limits our frailty. We will rest and ask for help and hope will return.

Let us understand when others reach this stage also.


8.         Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.

We will cry too.  It will help to cry. I wonder what Jesus would say if he were to re-direct our crying. He might ask us to weep for the gap between rich and poor which has grown so wide. He might ask us to weep for the belief, still widely held, that we can solve conflict with weapons. He might ask us to weep for the Amazon or the species becoming extinct or the Pacific Islanders whose homelands may disappear under water.

Let us remember after this crisis what we really give value to.

9.         Jesus falls for the third time.

Some of us will fall ill. We will recognise the virus in a temperature and cough and dry throat.  We will lose our energy. We will be frightened. We will ask our loved ones to stay away. We may struggle to breathe. Most of us will breathe our way through it.

Let us remember that our bodies have great healing powers.


10        Jesus is stripped of His clothes.

Some of us will be hospitalised.  We will abandon ourselves to the care of others.  Our families and friends will fear for us. Everyone will wait and hope. Some will pray. Prayer will find new forms.

Some of us will recover.

11   Jesus is nailed to the cross.

Some have underlying health issues. Hope of recovery may fade.Time may run out. Resources may run out. Life may run out.

Let us find new ways in challenging times to allow people live their final days with dignity.


12        Jesus dies on the cross.

Some of us will die. Many may die. There will be a great grieving. Much of it will be a quiet grieving. Irish people know how to grieve. Some of us have found ourselves keening like the older generations. It is part of our culture.

Irish people know how to be with each other in grief. Let us pray that we can keep the numbers to a minimum.


13 / 14             Jesus is taken down from the cross  and Jesus is placed in the tomb.

In a pandemic funeral rituals change. We cannot attend big funerals.  We struggle without our rituals. We have to wait.

But there will come a time when we:

  • grieve together
  • cry loudly
  • sing loudly
  • express our love for the ones we have lost
  • turn our hearts towards all that is essential - love, care, cooperation, equality, peace.

The scientists will find a vaccine. Many of us will change our lives. Let us demand of our leaders that forever more they think globally, work globally, solve globally, and allow our planet to heal.