Tests are faced often through our lives and according to the teachings of our faith they will be with us after death.
We undergo various tests almost from birth, initially mostly dealing with health issues reviewing matters such as the gifts of hearing and sight.
Many exams will follow as we move through the years that we spend at school and extend into further fields of education.
Some avenues of employment also have tests to determine whether job applicants seem able to deliver certain skills which are deemed necessary, and our financial state and the ability to continue providing the required funds are examined when we seek to borrow money to purchase cars or houses.
Health tests return as we age, covering blood pressure and a range of other measures.
Further into the ageing process, finances may be examined again as we seek suitable accommodation within retirement complexes or nursing homes.
Christ also was tested, arguably the greatest came during the events of the week we are about to commemorate when, as a human being like us, he didn’t seek to run away from facing the end of his earthly life in a brutal death that was designed to atone for the sins of the human race.
His agony in the garden demonstrated the way that many people may feel when worrying events are ahead of them, and his inability to find support among the disciples to “watch one hour” showed the isolation that can be felt when we are facing difficult times.
He went through the mockery of a “trial” incorrectly dubbed as “justice” only to see his fate placed before the mercy of a rowdy mob who gave freedom to a known criminal and sent Christ to further suffering ahead of carrying a cross to a hilltop for additional hours of physical pain before his work was “consummated” through death.
The Divine nature of his manhood was revealed three days later through his Resurrection – and Holy Week will see us commemorate both the human and the Divine as the Church offers first the chance to reflect on the harshness of the agonies and then on Easter Sunday, celebrates his return to life in the lone example of such an event.
Those who watched his life ebb away in the shadow of the cross also serve as examples of care that we should show to others when they’re facing difficulties.
This was especially so concerning the love demonstrated by his mother, Mary who was there to the end in the same way that love both from and to parents should be demonstrated in sad situations which threaten and sometimes end lives for them or for other people who are known to us.
Messages through the experiences to be reviewed over the coming days deliver opportunities to appreciate both sides of the identity of Jesus Christ: the figure at the centre of our faith and the one who has influenced Christian societies for more than 2000 years.
All the way, our faith tells us that his pain and his death were endured for our salvation.
While those who fight and die in battles that aim to achieve peace may be said to have put their lives on the line for others, most of our tests are personal, possibly
invoking sentiments expressed through the prayer Salve Regina or Hail Holy Queen.
This 11th century work was composed by Hermann of Reichenau who was crippled by a paralytic disease from early childhood, found it difficult to speak and was left in the care of Bendictine monks when aged seven. He went on to become a great Catholic scholar, but also lost his sight later in life.
His prayer called on: “Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness, and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.”
Hermann was beatified in 1863 but it’s fair to suspect that the prayer reflected his feelings about the very significant tests he faced during his life – and its recitation is appropriate in calling for support amid our own testing times.