Anna von Reitz
Things are always strange on Good Friday. All over the world, Stigmatics are suffering. Strange wounds appearing on their flesh. They experience in real time the agony of crucifixion. This happens to them every year. Of course, they know the story. In some sense, they know why it happens: it’s because the countenance of Jesus is lifted up on them. They take on His Image and share in His suffering.
Stigmatics have been studied for hundreds of years. They have been subjected to all sorts of mental and physical tests, discounted as “hysterics” and venerated at the same time. Most of them are perfectly normal people, except that they carry enigmatic scars— tiny scars on their foreheads, larger scars on their hands and wrists and feet and ankles, and a large scar like a knife scar on their sides.
You might think that they would appear predominantly in Christian countries and certainly only among Christians, but such is not the case. Stigmatics appear all over the world, in many unexpected places, among people who are not Christians, as well as among the devout. Imagine the consternation and wonderment of Muslim parents whose son suddenly and inexplicable displays the signs of the stigmata? Or the Buddhist monk who looks down at his wrist and sees (and feels) a nail hole?
Today, a Stigmatic, the friend of a friend who lives in Lebanon, is suffering. He will come to the verge of death, and appear to be dead, and then, the miracle begins….the clocks stop….blood returns to his cheek. The wounds heal as quickly as they appeared, and by the second or third day of April this year, he will appear as before, a mild-mannered man with gentle eyes, unremarkable except — if you look– you will see the telltale scars on his forehead and wrists.
“Pick up your cross, and follow me,” the words of the Word repeat in my head.
Follow me, so that you are no longer afraid of suffering or ridicule or death. Follow me, so that you can pass through death to eternal life. Follow me, because I am the Way — literally. Follow my path and my footsteps. Observe them well. Follow me, because despite all appearances otherwise, I am Heaven-bound.
What a steep and rocky way! What a path, drenched in injustice and pain? Yet, what should we expect? That Heaven would be easy to attain?
In my work, I meet a great many people who have been dreadfully abused, and often, they are the children of others, who were abused for generations prior to this. And always, they seek control.
They believe that if they were in control, everything would be better and different, but the truth is that we abuse others because we have learned all about abuse, but very little about nurturing or compassion.
And so, the cycle of suffering continues on. Just look at Israel today. “Never again!” they say, and yet, look at what they do.
The oppressed become the oppressors who become the oppressed who become the oppressors. Nobody stops the merry-go-round and actually stops abuse. They just change targets and keep on shooting.
Just like the hypocrites who abolished private slave ownership with one hand, and opened up the doors to public slave ownership with the other.
This is the Great Mystery we are heir to— the mystery of love in the midst of undeserving, the mystery of love that transcends fear and pain, abuse and injustice, loss and oppression of every kind.
And Golgotha is the final lesson.