Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Weakness of Love

Jesus’ power is expressed in the weakness of love. His own experience as victim of his passion is not a place where he gets stuck. He neither curses his oppressors nor relishes his victimhood. He trusts that he is the beloved of the Father and so he is free to suffer because he knows it does not define him. Now risen from the dead, he shows us that there is nothing to fear, because like him, we are at once very poor, very wounded sinners and at the very same time richly blest and most beloved. Beloved sinners.

Compassion involves growth in this insight. Compassion leads us to union and intimacy with our very wounded inner self, the wounded neighbor who no longer needs to be avoided, and ultimately with the truly Other - God most high who in Christ has become God most low, most lowly, wounded, vulnerable and always near, though we are so liable to miss him or close the door in his face.

I think about why I avoid certain brothers, why certain brothers press my alarm button? Probably they remind me of me – doing the stuff I do but hate myself for, the stuff I try not to do but can’t stop. Maybe they remind me of the me I’ll never be able to be, and so I’m tremendously jealous

How can we help but think of Saint Francis, who realizes one day that he must embrace that leper, the one from whom he had fled as the most repugnant of outcasts? Small wonder that soon after this embrace, Francis will hide in a cave and cry his heart out, grieving over all his sins. In the leper he has come too close to the trauma of bitter self-recognition; the place, the reality to be avoided at all costs, has become the scene of encounter, healing and freedom. Jesus was right there, of all places, there in his “distressing disguise."

A drowsy complacency or worse a fierce resistance are always a temptation. How will I notice the poor one very near that I may find repugnant? Who is the ignored or forgotten outcast in my world, in this monastery, in my heart, in my mirror - the part of me that won’t go away, always begging to be let in even though I want to keep it at a safe distance? How will I persevere in a “life that ordinary obscure and laborious” that I often experience as wearying, useless even ridiculous? Can I continue to trust that Jesus is constantly welcoming me into the banquet of his compassionate solidarity with me in all of it? 

We do not have to run away anymore. We needn’t bother, or we’ll miss out. Christ Jesus is always at the door of our hearts, waiting to be let in, the sore-covered beggar, bearing the wounds of his own cruel passion, the wounds of our many passions. The wounds, the sores – Jesus has got them, we’ve all got them whatever kind they may be – all of them are our gateway to love and freedom and compassion. Each morning in the Eucharist the Divine Beggar invites us to Holy Communion with him. As we consume him, let us beg him - that his merciful compassion may consume us more and more, beg him that like him we may become more and more very wounded forgivers.

Meditation by one of the monks.