There were once, two sisters whose parents had died and left them well off. Neither of them married. These were both strong independent women. They shared a common faith and had great compassion and love for their brother, who was special needs, and even though he was high functioning, he still needed a great deal of their time and attention. The brother never spoke; he is not remembered as ever having uttered a single word. But the brother was open-hearted and gentle of spirit and loved for who he was.
This is a story about a mother whose only child was ill. We have all heard stories of parents going to any extreme to save their children. The love of a parent knows no limits. That is the type of mother this woman is, she was willing to risk embarrassment, humiliation, and possible rejection if it would save her beloved daughter, by swallowing her pride and seeking out the one person who could help her and her daughter.
Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve, grace is getting what you don’t deserve and could not have earned or expected, but received. This is a story about a man in his twenties who had finally come to the end of his luck; this man had a knack for getting himself in trouble but had managed to elude punishment for a very long time. As much as the man wanted to and tried to change, he felt it was beyond him. All was going well until it all caught up with him, he did something; he was apprehended and found he was unable to get out of it. But just when he thought this was it and had actually become comfortable with his fate, this man was given grace.
Saint Paul states a body is one though it has many parts and all the parts are of one body. The body is a beautiful example of necessity and complementarity. Every part has a job that it does well, in concert with all the other parts doing their job, all the components necessary for the whole. It is easy to see how all the parts work together in the body, but it can be challenging to see and understand just how this necessity and complementarity work in other areas.
Look at the life of Christ, the three stories I opened with are scenes from his life, the first, the two sisters who cared for their special needs brother was a modern interpretation of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The second story is about the Canaanite woman seeking the help of Jesus because her daughter was possessed by a demon, and this persistent, loving mother knew that Jesus Christ was the only one who could and would help her daughter. Jesus did heal her daughter. The third story was about the repentant guilty thief who hung on the cross next to the innocent Christ. This man was a thief and a sinner but was able to recognize who Christ was. These stories show Jesus raising someone from the dead, forgiving the sins of another, and showing how Christ is available to all who seek him. Together they point to the fact that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer, sent to bring His message of salvation to the entire world.
These people represent some of the most enlightening and easy-to-understand parts of Jesus’ life, and of course, there are others, not so easy to understand their necessity and complementarity. How many of Christ’s teachings would we have missed if not for the Pharisees and Sadducees? And it was the demons who were the first to recognize who Jesus was. Would we be able to know the light without the contrast of the dark? There is unity and necessity in all the parts, light and darkness.
Photographs by Brother Casimir. Meditation by Brother Stephen.