Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

In his passion Jesus absorbs all the shock and pain- the great tornado of sin throughout history- wars, holocausts, all the evil choices, large and small, all the resistances to God, all the proud refusals that have always been and even now are tragically part of our humanity. Jesus has borne all of it because he cannot bear to have us burdened or trapped by the guilt and regret and the chaos of our sinfulness. He has allowed this immeasurable quantity of ugly debris to fall upon him as he shelters us with his own body. He has borne the brunt of sin and guilt for us, but it could not crush him for he is truly God. Still the crash has not been without effect. Gloriously resurrected, Jesus has nonetheless emerged, with real wounds that won’t go away. 

God is forever full of holes, the marks of his love and compassion and mercy. And so he is not embarrassed by the intimacy of baring these wounds for us. He gladly shows us his wounds because they are the radiant sacraments of his compassion. God is wounded by our sins just as we are, but his wounding means transformation and the revelation of the unending availability of his mercy. Jesus’ resurrection enables us to know the contingency, the non-necessity of death. In his rising Jesus sets us free from its tyranny, even the tyranny of our small daily “dyings.” Jesus sets us free “to live as if death were not,”for it is not the truth of who we are; even in our woundedness, we are made for eternal life in God.

Still it may be difficult to look at the wounded Christ, perhaps because we see ourselves too clearly: utter human fragility joined forever to resurrected divinity. In him we see our reality and our sublime destiny, as individuals, as Church, as community. It takes courage to gaze upon the passion-gashed Jesus. For he shows us who are and who we are meant to be: never poor victims of our sins and bad choices, never hapless victims of our sin-filled histories, never wounded wounders but wounded forgivers like Jesus. The holes, and we’ve all got them, can help to make us more compassionate. Jesus has been wounded by his loving us to death. To become his body now, we must go and do likewise. Looking upon him, we see ourselves. We are the body of Christ; we are his beautiful wounded body. “When you gave me yourself,” says St. Bernard, “you gave me back myself.”

Photograph by Brother Brian.
See James Alison.