Thursday, April 19, 2018

From the Beginning

Certainly the horizon of the reign of God is immeasurable; God's revolution also eliminates death and leads in the end to an eternal life with God. But it begins here, on this earth, and it is about this world because from the very beginning God's intent was nothing other than the world. From that point of view the "world" of resurrection can be nothing other than the perfected, healed and sanctified world in which we now live. To misuse or deny this is to slander Jesus' message and corrupt it.

Photograph by Brother Casimir. Lines from Is This All There Is? by Gerhard Lohfink.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Stephen

Today and tomorrow in the First Reading at Mass, we hear the story of Saint Stephen's martyrdom. Clearly in these passages from the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen is presented to us as one like Jesus his Master. Like Jesus, he works great wonders and signs among the people and, he is full of wisdom in his teaching. And as happened to Jesus, Stephen is condemned when false witnesses testify against him, denouncing him as a blasphemer. Finally as Stephen is being stoned to death, like Jesus in his agony, Stephen hands his over his spirit. And as he is dying, Stephen falls to his knees forgiving his persecutors, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them."

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Looking at Jesus

God is forever full of holes, the marks of his love and compassion and mercy. It may be difficult to look at him, for we see ourselves too clearly: utter human fragility joined forever to resurrected divinity. In him we see our reality as individuals, as Church, as monastic community. It takes courage to gaze upon the passion-gashed Jesus. For he shows us who are and who we are meant to become more and more - never poor victims of our sin and bad choices, never mere hapless victims of our sin-filled histories and misery, never ever wounded wounders, but wounded healers, wounded forgivers like him. Our wounds are meant 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, break the cycle of hurt by continually being vulnerable and compassionate - pain and sin and hurt-absorbers for one another. As we look upon Jesus, he reveals who we are - his beautiful wounded body. No wonder that Saint Bernard will say to Christ: “When you gave me yourself; you gave me back myself.”

Friday, April 13, 2018

God's Intention

The resurrection of the dead "...is giving form to that for which creation was intended from the beginning: to be a world before God, created out of incomprehensible and unjustifiable love, and always meant to find its way home to God. The resurrection of the dead...is the consequence of the world's creation, its coming forth out of pure grace. And above all it is the consequence of the raising of Jesus from the dead...he is the prototype and firstborn of all creation."

from Is This All There Is by Gerard Lohfink.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Peace



Fear and shame hang heavily over the scene in the upper room. The apostles have much to regret. Everything’s just about fallen to pieces, and now they’re hiding out. And then very quietly Jesus sneaks in to be with them. “Peace,” he says, and they are filled with joy. Jesus is neither boastful nor grand but almost shy and self-effacing. The very unpretentiousness of his presence is overwhelming. Jesus is obviously very physically present - disarmingly familiar to them - but also totally Other. He walks through the door and shows them his wounds, the deep scars in his body. The wounds confirm his “drastic physicality,” it’s really Jesus alright, but there is also mysteriously something much more. The apostles are filled with joy and utterly bewildered.

At this point we can imagine all the things Jesus might have said to them: “You fled. You left me. You denied me. How could you?” But he’ll have none of that. He simply breathes on them his own Spirit, the Spirit of forgiveness. And he says, “Peace.” No recriminations, just his warm breath, his peace and the instruction to forgive - to forgive even as he is forgiving them. Jesus’ resurrected presence allows them, first of all, to grieve the loss of their identity as perfect disciples and forgive themselves for all they have failed to do. And so he shows the apostles his wounds, for it is from this place of woundedness and vulnerability that they like him will be able to forgive others. Without vulnerability grace cannot happen,* without vulnerability any forgiveness we offer will be only cosmetic. Jesus has returned as the forgiving victim.

Photograph by Brother Brian. *from notes given by Dr. Patricia Kelly.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Annunciation

She did not cry, 'I cannot, I am not worthy,'
nor, 'I have not the strength.'
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.
Consent,
courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.

Annunciation by Fra Angelico. Lines from the poem Annunciation by Denise Levertov.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Forgiving

Like Jesus, we are invited to remember without bitterness. That’s what forgiveness means – to remember without bitterness. Forgiveness does not mean nothing happened; too much, very much has happened to Jesus and to each one of us. Jesus has been wounded by our sins just as we are, indeed seeing his body wounded by sin makes sin and its consequences undeniable. But his wounding accomplishes our transformation, for his open wounds allow for the unending availability of his mercy. Jesus will be forever full of holes, those marks of his love and compassion and mercy. Jesus is not embarrassed by the intimacy of baring these wounds. He shows us his hands, he most willingly opens his pierced side, his broken heart for Thomas, for each of us, for it is the radiant sacrament of his compassion, the floodgate for his mercy. “Come touch me,” he says. “Put your hand in my side.” His wounded body holds the remembrance of his passion and suffering but without bitterness only love and the longing to console us.

Seeing the wounded Christ, and at the same time acknowledging my own stubbornness and stupidity, which is to say my own woundedness, how could I ever withhold forgiveness, or judge another. If Jesus could forgive in his agony his persecutors, forgive that poor thief writhing on the cross next to him, if he could take back his loser apostles after his resurrection, if he is always so ready to mercy me, who am I to ever withhold forgiveness or nurse a grudge? “Peace,” he says and he breathes on us. Too much has happened but forgiveness is worth it, love is worth it.

The Incredulity of Thomas by Caravaggio.