On Life, The Pascal Mystery, Knees, and Rejoicing
Oh, to Be Stripped Bare!
Why do humans naturally have a desire to bare their soul--to be stripped down to the core of their being showing complete and utter vulnerability? Because we long to be seen. We fight to be understood. We live to be loved. We were created for God.
We have also fallen. Thus we are guarded. We sin. We fight. We die. Life is a constant participation in the Paschal Mystery--the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Often, if we are believers, we live our lives in an imperfect attempt at living like Christ... Preaching, Loving, Healing, and Praying. Frequently we experience death, not just the physical death of loved ones, but spiritual, emotional, and volitional death as well. Finally, just as after every night there is a dawn, after every death there is a resurrection. God does not leave us in the wilderness forever; eventually we are delivered.
Our lives are spent trying to make meaning of our existence, trying to fulfill our purpose in life. Sometimes perhaps that purpose isn't grand, but it is needed. We should strive to live our our vocation, our call, to further world in God's plan. I think Marin Luther King Jr. said it best when he claimed,
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Oh how beautiful! If only we could be the garbage man, the president, the mother, or the coal miner who did their job, lived their vocation, so well that all the hosts of heaven proclaimed, "Here lived a great human being!". What would it be like to live so fully that even the Angels honor us?!
If only it were that easy. For life is filled with suffering and sin, and to live a such as Christ, we must continually, every single day, find a way to die.
What is this death if not physical? It is a giving of ourselves, our wants, our will, our comfort, in order to fully identify with Christ. Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice by death on the cross, we know this. But still we refuse to fast, refuse to tithe, fail to show charity, because it is an inconvenience. But alas, we are human. It is in occasionally fasting or abstaining from these comforts that we begin to shed our own wants, and align our will to the Ultimate, the will of God.
There are other kinds of death. We can die to our fears, die to our humanity, by stripping our souls bare for others to enter in. This perhaps is the ultimate fear of all humans, that we give ourselves completely to another in search of love, only to be rejected. To be vulnerable is to love, and indeed it was in Christ's most loving act, that he was most vulnerable.
On Our Knees
Why do humans kneel when they pray? Why do we kneel when we propose? Why do Catholics kneel when receiving communion?
We kneel because it is at those moments when we are most vulnerable, when we have emptied ourselves that we may love and be loved.
It is also a posture of humility--the virtue by which we know our true selves, and our true place in our relationship with God and the World.
Humility begets vulnerability. Vulnerability begets love.
Love is a risk, but without it we are lifeless, we are without purpose. And when we DO get hurt from that risk we can use it to become closer to Christ. However, when that risk is taken by giving ourselves completely to Christ, it is no risk at all for Christ will never forsake us. And, when that risk does pay off in this world, and results in a wonderfully loving human relationship, we start a new life.
And at last when the clouds break and the darkness of our death is banished, we can rejoice and stand in victory, praising God for His deliverance! And delivered we shall be, for we have hope, and Christian Hope does not disappoint. We shall always prevail.
This cycle of death and rejoicing is not a one time thing. In many ways it can be daily, choosing to give up little things so we may become united with Him.
However, in many ways this cycle resembles the seasons of our life... suffering can take on epic proportions, often more than once in our life, and it is then that we can choose to despair, or to walk boldly through the darkness and seek the light. And in the end, it all comes down to how vulnerable we want to make ourselves, and how humble we choose to be.
Therefore, I pray brothers and sisters, that you may die well today.
© 2010 R D Langr