Friday, March 23, 2012

Embraced By Christ

Two weeks until Good Friday. This Lent for me has been marked with a different kind of experience of suffering. It is the stark wonder that I have found in recognizing the depths of Christ's suffering in the life of another person. A window has been opened for me to the realization of how profoundly the Cross impresses itself upon every person's life.

We just don't see it. We don't look at each other and recognize "Jesus suffering." We don't look at each other's pain, limitations, and faults, and see Jesus suffering. We don't look at the way we disappoint one another, abuse one another, and hurt one another, and recognize Jesus suffering in our very broken and scarred humanity.

We don't look at the way we are divided from one another, at the way we make war on one another--whether it's war that spans the continents, or war between peoples, or war in the community, or the workplace, or war in the household--and recognize Jesus, suffering, right there, taking it all up on His Cross.

And we don't recognize Jesus suffering in the center of our own hearts, right inside our own ugly, paltry selfishness and weakness--the very place where we don't want to look.

That is where He is.

This is the lesson that Blessed Chiara Badano is teaching me. The depths of suffering are unfathomable, because they have been embraced by Christ.

In the midst of the body-crushing, bone-piercing pain of her cancer, she says, "I am not asking Jesus to come and get me to bring me to Heaven anymore, because I still want to offer Him my pain, to share His Cross with Him."

What could possibly make someone say this?

Can God's Love really enter into and thus transform a human heart?

It is beautiful, but it is overwhelming! I admit that I can't breathe here. But it certainly clarifies the reality that everyone of us must face. Either pain is a tragic waste, or Jesus is true, and suffering really has been transformed into love. And this is not just words. It's a real challenge.

How can I even begin to live like this? How can I find this love? How, O Lord?

I believe He makes it possible. He changes us. But we have to keep asking for the grace. We have to pray. God is merciful, and He helps us to walk in His mysterious ways. And there is no other way except God's love. Jesus I trust in You.