Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Way Out

We remember a movie shown at the monastery a few years ago called Moonstruck. In one scene Rose is sitting in the parlor with her almost son-in-law Johnnie. She has become painfully aware that her husband Cosmo is unfaithful, and it’s killing her, eating her up inside. And she says to Johnnie something like, “Why do men cheat on their wives?” He closes his eyes, thinks for a moment and says, “Fear of death.” “That’s it,” Rose replies. Just then the front door opens and her husband walks in. Without missing a beat, she yells to him, “Cosmo, you’re gonna die anyway!” “Thank you, Rose, for that sentiment,” he says; as he walks upstairs to bed.

Perhaps our lives like Cosmo’s are marked by a continual flight from death but at the same time toward death. We just can’t avoid it. We’re stuck. And in the face of the inevitability of our death, our one time dying, and our daily dyings - the pains and sins and defeats we cannot control - we may want to run. But Jesus comes to show us a more excellent way; he shows us that death has no more power over us.

He tells us that the seed must fall into the earth to bear abundant fruit, and then, “When I am lifted up, I will draw everyone to myself.” Clearly his “lifting up” is his crucifixion. He will be raised up on a cross of humiliation, pain and death. His lifting up will be his self-gift to his Father for us. And when he says, “Where I am, there also will my servant be,” it is because he longs to draw us with him to the Father through the very narrow gate of his passion.

Jesus shows us that God dreams something extraordinary and beautiful for us. Jesus reveals that the cross, all of our crosses, are a way out. He longs to draw us into his own his loving self-offering as a way out of death - self-giving as a way that absolutely cancels death, smashes it to pieces forever. “For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross despising its shame,” because he knows that death is only a gateway, excruciatingly painful, but an utterly porous membrane that we can break through by means of love - the very gift of ourselves to him and to our brothers and sisters.

An etching of the Abbey by Margaret Walters, (1924 - 1971).