Cynthia grew up Catholic and at 28 was well along the way to a senior management position. During that time the Church ebbed out of her life and to a lesser degree her faith too. Susan her friend was a volunteer on a night van for the homeless. Intrigued by what led Susan into this work, Cynthia joined her one weekend on a retreat with young adults.
What stood out for Cynthia at the retreat were some of the retreat leader’s remarks. She said, ‘The Christian life is about living the resurrection of Jesus. The Jesus who rose from the dead is the same Jesus who died on the cross. In life and in death Jesus was open to all persons, divine and human. This same quality was with him when he rose. Christians today are not just invited to tag along with Jesus but to live with him his risen life – totally open to God and humanity’. Cynthia felt enlivened by this teaching.
As the Church this Advent waits for Christ’s coming, it acknowledges that the risen Christ still carries the wounds of his passion and death, symbols of his openness to everyone.
In the late sixteenth century, St. John of the Cross, derided and rejected as was Jesus, came to understand more deeply the meaning of Christ’s sufferings and death. His life was an ongoing Advent in which the wounded/risen One came to him.
(Jesus) emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names, so that all beings in the heavens, on the earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus, and every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father- Philippians 2:7-11
Gracious God, you endowed St. John of the Cross with a spirit of self-denial and love of the cross. By following his example may we come to live the openness to be found in Christ’s resurrection. We ask you this through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
To hold out love and know they would not take it,- From ‘Eli, Eli’ by Judith Wright
To hold out faith and know they dared not take it –
The invisible wand, and none would see or take it,
All he could give, and there was none to take it –
Thus they betrayed him, not with the tongue’s betrayal