Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Dialogue Between "the 1990 JJ" and "the 2015 JJ" About Sanctity and Love

Twenty five years ago, Young JJ reflected on "All Saints Day" and what he thought the challenge of real holiness presented for his own time. He sounds a lot like Old JJ here, though the latter may have a point or two to add at the end.

Indeed. And the answer to the last question, of course, is "the Person of Jesus Christ." Twenty five years have taught me how mysterious the mercy of Jesus really is. These years have also required me to face again and again a humiliating fact about myself: that I am very weak when it comes to doing things -- especially things for God -- according to those three emphatic words, without any reservation.

Trusting in God "without any reservation" only happens inside of a relationship with God. He is trustworthy, but we only experience this and remember it by spending time with Him. And over the course of the years, there are times when it feels like we are barely hanging onto Him.

Which leads me to one final point for Young JJ -- "Christians" do need to "live with" human beings all the way to the "naked abyss," the "alienating division that cleaves every human heart." But after twenty five years of poor attempts to live this way, the "man" whose desperate heart, whose hunger, and whose "dramatic ambivalence" I have learned most about is myself.

I have been redeemed by Jesus in baptism and renewed by reconciliation, and empowered by faith, hope, and charity and the gifts and grace of the Holy Spirit. For all that, I am a deeply wounded and broken man.

I live through hope, which means that I am on a journey towards a goal, and even if I already possess the foretaste of that goal through grace and the secret joy of the Holy Spirit, it is a mysterious, mystical, foretaste. It eludes all the analogies that we use to describe various aspects of it, and all of the earthly terminology that tries to capture it, because this foretaste is moving our lives forward. It is not a place to rest.

It is the Lord drawing me on the journey to Himself. It engenders hope for this journey that passes through all of my own human heart with its radical hunger for fulfillment, its continued struggle with so much of its own division and ambivalence and the wounds that need to be healed.

Yes Young JJ, you will live with human beings in our time because you are one of those human beings. We are all on the same journey. We are called to love one another and help one another. Human life is indeed a thirst in an endless desert, but it is also filled with the mysterious workings of grace and their mysterious effects that shape every person's journey, because Jesus loves each person.

The gift of the Christian life makes us only more human, called to a greater service, to love and to be loved, to suffer with all our brothers and sisters, to let His myserious light shine in us and through us... even when it burns and burns and we don't understand why.

This is how you begin to experience the "weakness" of love.