Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16, New Revised Standard Version).
I once knew of a paraplegic who said that the worst thing any one would tell him is that they understand what he is going through. His biggest hangup was that almost every person who told him that was someone who could walk on both legs. How could someone who can walk, understand what it is like to be unable to walk, use a bathroom without some kind of help or take about an hour to dress himself relate to his experience? In his defense, they could not understand him.
The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is our great high priest who identifies with us in all things. We can become the sore sight of self pity anytime we want, but, as Christians we really have no excuse for going there. In Jesus Christ, God has experienced the full array of what every human being does. Including the sudden inability to move His legs as they were nailed to the cross at His crucifixion. Yet, Jesus is also our example of what it means to live from our essence in the face of suffering. Rather than dwelling in self doubt or self absorption, Jesus embraces our human suffering with faith in the God that appeared to have abandoned Him. In that moment, Jesus hung on to nothing at all. Not even His relationship with God to help Him feel better or hold Himself in higher esteem. He accepted His suffering and let go of everything else with complete faith and trust in God alone; only full of God’s love for all of us. “Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NRSV).
We can approach the throne of grace that is the Cross boldly; that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. We are never alone. We are always in good company.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB