Friday, April 10, 2009

The Darkest Day

Good Friday is the enactment of a choice that forever shattered the world. For better or worse the world has never recovered from it. I suspect that because of the darkness of it all, it is very hard to see through it to the light.

Jesus lived and breathed for a single purpose. Jesus came to show us what it means to be human. Jesus lived a most powerful and complete human life. Everyone, Christian or not, can learn from this life. Likewise, we can learn from his death.

But on Good Friday, I see the achievements of mankind mirrored in the face of a dying Jesus and I’m not very proud of what I see.

It is on Good Friday that the eyes of God bore all the way to my heart and break me in two.

Stay awake! cries my shattered soul. Face what you have done. Face your terrors. Face your anger at the great which impels you to overlook the small. Stop thinking you can change the world and find somewhere within yourself the courage to love it.

I do not like standing at the foot of the cross. I want to be anywhere but here, anywhere but in the frenzy of money, power and brokered lives. I am too vulnerable. The same people who hurt Jesus have hurt me. But if I can hold on to the whirlwind, sometimes I can catch a glimpse of what the fourteenth century holy woman Dame Julian saw so well and so clearly. It is an impossible text if read as an account of suffering; therefore, suffering itself must be faced in order to see what lies beyond. On Good Friday, from the foot of the cross, I share with you part of a reading from Dame Julian offered us by Father Tom Brindley while my friend J. and I were on Holy Week retreat at St. Columba parish:

Then our good Lord Jesus Christ said, “Are you well satisfied with my suffering for you?” “Yes, thank you, good Lord,” I replied. “Yes, good Lord, bless you.” And the kind Lord Jesus said, “If you are satisfied, then I am satisfied too. It gives me great happiness and joy, and indeed, eternal delight to have even suffered for you. If I could possibly have suffered more, I would have done so.” This experience lifted my mind to heaven... In his word, “if I could have possibly suffered more, I would have done so,” I saw that he would have died again and again, for his love would have given him no rest until he had done so….For though the dear humanity of Christ could only suffer once, his goodness would always make him willing to do so – every day, if need be….This is his meaning. “How could I not, out of love for you, do all I can for you? This would not be difficult, since for love of you I am ready to die often, regardless of the suffering.” And here I saw that the love that made him suffer is as much greater than his pain as heaven is greater than the earth.” (Revelations of Divine Love, pp 96-97)

Oh Lord and Master of my life, do not give me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk; but give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, love and patience to your servant. Yea, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own transgressions and not judge my brother, for blessed are You unto ages of ages. Amen. (The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian)

It is finished.

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