Katharine frowned. She didn’t like this time of year. She just received ashes for Ash Wednesday. Her friends talked about what they gave up for Lent. Maria gave up Chocolate. Annie gave up computer games. Mike gave up talking in class.
Katharine didn’t know what she wanted to give up yet. She couldn’t concentrate on that now. She was far too sad. These were the days and weeks when Church and school talked about how the soldiers hurt Jesus and put Him on the cross. Katharine preferred Christmastime where the world treated Jesus as the King he should be treated as. She wished Jesus didn’t have to suffer the way He did so long ago.
As the bell rang and school let out, Katharine wandered slowly out of the building.
“Katharine,” called a voice.
Katharine turned around to see Sister Mary standing in the doorway.
“May I see you for a moment?”
Katharine made her way back to the door and followed Sister Mary into the classroom.
“I’ve noticed you haven’t been your usual happy self in class. Is there something I can help you with?”
Should she say anything? Would Sister understand? At last, Katharine decided to tell Sister how sad she felt that Jesus suffered so much for us before He died. “I wish someone would have stopped them from hurting Jesus,” Katharine concluded.
She expected Sister to be shocked at Katharine’s feelings, but when she looked up, she saw a heavenly smile across Sister Mary’s face.
“I used to think the same thing. When we love someone, we don’t want them to feel pain. But you see, it’s that kind of love that God did for us through Jesus. Jesus took on suffering to free us from the pain of our sins. If he didn’t offer himself as a sacrifice for us, our sins could not be forgiven.”
Katharine stared at her shoes. “So, Jesus suffered to save us from being hurt? But why does anyone have to get hurt?”
Sister held Katharine’s hand. “That’s what sin does. Sin hurts us, others and the world. Jesus came to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Someone has to make things right with God if we are to live with Him in Paradise.”
Suddenly Katharine remembered a story. “It’s like when Billy stole candy from the store one time. Nothing was right until he went back to the store and paid for what he took.”
Sister Mary took out her Bible from her “important books” shelf and smiled.
“That’s right.” She placed the Bible on her desk. “There’s a story in here about what God’s people were to do if they sinned. The Israelites were told to offer up an animal ‘without blemish’, meaning perfect, to God when they sinned. In this way they cleaned themselves of their sin. While this was good, it was not enough to open the gates of Heaven. That is why we needed Jesus to suffer and die for us. He is our lamb ‘without blemish.’”
While Katharine walked home from school, she thought about what Sister Mary said. She still felt sad that Jesus had to suffer. She walked through the kitchen the door and tossed her schoolbag on the chair as Chris, her three-year old brother ran in to greet her. She brought Mom’s chocolate cake onto the table and cut a piece for a snack. As she brought the cake back to the counter, she saw Chris grab the knife off the table.
“Chris! No!” Without thinking she rushed over and grabbed the knife from her brother. She placed it in the sink and looked over Chris to make sure he wasn’t hurt. Thankfully, Chris was fine. Katharine, however had a small cut on her finger. As she cleaned it up and put a bandage on it, it dawned on her what she just did. She allowed herself to get hurt to save her brother.
At that moment Katharine understood why Jesus suffered the way He did for us. It was out of pure love and concern for us all. She knew what she was doing for Lent now. Instead of giving something up, she chose to spend time everyday in prayer thanking God what He’s done for us. Good Friday was a hard day for Katharine to participate in, so she spent more time in prayer than usual that day.
Finally, it was here. Easter Sunday! In the homily at Mass, Father reminded them all that today, Easter Sunday was the end of the story, not Good Friday. Katharine beamed and sang with joy just as she noticed Sister Mary smiling at her from across the church. This truly was a happy Easter.