Friday, January 6, 2012

Suffering, Death ... and Resurrection!

They lead Jesus to the courtyard of the palace, and there call together the whole troop (Mark 15:16). The brutal soldiers strip his most pure body. They drape a dirty purple rag about Jesus. They place a reed, as a scepter, in his right hand. The crown of thorns, driven in by blows, makes him a mock king ... "Hail, King of the Jews!" (Mark 15:18) And with their blows, they wound his head. And they strike him... and spit on him. Crowned with thorns and clothed in rags of purple, Jesus is shown to the Jewish crowd. Ecce Homo: "Here is the man!" and again the chief priests and their attendants raise the cry, saying, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" John 19:5-6)

He allowed this to happen. Jesus is God. He could have stopped any of this at any time and simply said, "Enough!" But he didn't. He sat there and took it. He took the torture and the mockery.


His Father, God, willed it. Earlier in the evening Jesus prayed in the garden and asked his Father that if it was his will, to take this cup of suffering from him. God did not take it away, so Jesus took it willingly.

The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus - the Paschal Mystery - was all part of God's plan. Jesus lived it out in humble, loving obedience. Because he offered himself in love, he gave us the opportunity to spend eternity with him.

Jesus was fully God and fully man. He had free will and in those moments of torture and mockery could have said, "I just can't do this. The pain is too much." But he didn't.

In the times when my inner pain screams so loudly that it cripples me, it's hard for me to remember that God can, and will, use all things for his Glory. Jesus suffered and died on the cross, but he overcame death in his resurrection. I, too, suffer and feel like I have died many deaths. Out of the evil perpetrated can come good.

I think the key to the outcome lies in my response.

If I succumb to the temptation to withdraw, obsess over the abuse and neglect, get angry or any number of other unhealthy responses, I will not provide opportunities for God to do his work in and through me. I've already seen this happen.

When I become the center of my universe - my pain, my angst, anger, depression, sorrow, confusion - it is nothing but trouble.

When I offer myself to Jesus and put him in the center, it's all good.

God is love. Listen to that: God IS love. God = love. God >is the same as< love. When I sit with that for a while, it envelopes me. He envelopes me. I am not alone.

We are not alone. There are many others who have experienced similar things as we have. There are people who love us for who we are. No one can know what we feel like inside. That can be the most difficult thing and where we feel most alone: with ourselves. The sweetest thing of all is that Jesus can be with us interiorly. In a very real way, we are not alone. If we sit very quietly, we can hear him, even through the chaos that sometimes resonates within.

Lean on him. Lean into him. Rest in him.

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