For the people of Bushey in time of distress

Friday 12th July at 7.00pm

‘An angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength’

The Church issues an invitation to come to the foot of the cross, not just on Good Friday, but on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on 14th September and on any other occasion when a focus on the principal actions which won our salvation is required. On any occasion when we feel low or lost a visit is justified and no more so than in a time of grief and bewilderment which is where many in Bushey and beyond find themselves following the murder of Carol, Hannah and Louise Hunt. A sense of hurt and loss pervades a community when such things happen and this week Bushey is no exception.

When we accept the invitation to come to the foot of the cross it is axiomatic that we don’t want to be there at all. It is a place of death, of judicial murder, of degradation, of the ‘abuse of power’ as we might now say. And yet the faithful are drawn to it because it is a place where rubbish can be left. (Golgotha, where the crucifixion took place was the city rubbish dump after all). At the foot of the cross we can leave the things we are ashamed of, the things we are afraid of, the things we can’t cope with any more. And then we wait, in silence and hope for Easter, for the cross to make its power known, for resurrection, for new life.

But it is not easy to come to the cross. For those who find it difficult, for those who are not ready, there is a prelude in the Garden of Gethsemane. The two places are really part of the same story. Jesus is there in the garden with the disciples (except one), and he kneels in prayer. He offers his fears to God the Father. His soul is in pain and his sweat drops to the ground like blood. In prayer he is connecting with his Father, pleading for courage and committing himself to all that lies ahead. He is surrendering his will.

Is there support from the others? After a fashion. They are at least there in the garden just a few feet away, but what can they do? They are perplexed by all that is happening, they are tired and fearful, and it is hard to pray. But the invitation is there, to keep Jesus company, to try to make some connection with the divine no matter how tenuous.

The invitation is to find hope, even in the midst of fear and despair. We can only find that hope by being with Jesus in the garden or at the foot of the cross, by bringing all that dreadful baggage and leaving it there with him. When we do that just one word is necessary, ‘help’. It is the recognition that we can’t manage on our own; only in the company of Jesus can we begin to live again.

Father Andrew Burton SSC