In this Gospel passage are three different reactions to Christ’s impending passion. The first is from Judas who leaves the light and enters into the night. The second is the beloved disciple who reclines by Jesus, settling into the Lord’s love. The third is Peter who ardently cries out his desire to follow Christ, even if it means sacrificing his life.

I think there is something of these three reactions in all of us. Suffering does not build character; it reveals it as we enter more fully into Christ’s passion. And, as we follow St. Ignatius’s counsel to ask for the grace to experience the shame and confusion of the cross in our own lives, our own character gets revealed. The cross shows who we really are. Whether we’ve fled to darkness or been quick to promise faithfulness yet slow to fulfill it, the cross holds us up to the light. Whether we are resting in Christ’s loving embrace or far from it, as the shadows fall and the weight of the cross presses on our shoulders, we discover who we are.

And who are we? When we look at ourselves reflected in the passion of the cross, what do we see? Loved sinners. Failed and broken ones, precisely the ones Christ chose to die for. Resting or running, shouting or silent, it all only finds meaning in light of Christ’s sacrificial love, a love that enters into sin and death only to transform it into life.

How do I react when I experience the shame and confusion of the cross in my day-to-day life? And how does Christ react when I share in the experience of His cross?

—Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching English at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, Detroit MI. He is also a published poet.