March 29, 2010

The Passion: Where we learn to rest in the Heart of Christ

During Holy Week, we are invited to enter into the heart of the Lord by sharing His passion with Him.  This can only happen through prayer.  Only through prayer can we pick up on the subtle movements of his heart, movements that involve ourselves, those we love and the whole world.  When you enter into the Heart of the Lord of Hosts, he immediately baths you in His Blood, purifying us of sin and filling us with a loved filled hope which not even death can overcome.

On Thursday night, we will celebrate the Lord's Supper.  This is the sacred Banquet in which Christ made himself our spiritual food.  His Body and His Blood are given to save us and sustain us in our Christian way of life.  Like the martyrs before us, without the flesh and blood of Christ, we cannot go on.  Everyone who has believed in the power of Christ's Blood has experienced this saving and sustaining power.  They know His Blood is Life in a world of death.  They experience deep in their hearts that His Blood is not an escape from this world, the Blood of Jesus is the world's only salvation.  When believers drink from the Cup of the New Covenant, Christ's Eternal Life flows into them, and if they are open in faith, this divine outpouring will fill them to the point where they live no longer their own life, but His Life in them.   

Those who allow themselves to be completely immersed in the life of Christ think like Him, act like Him, and more than anything else, pray like Him.  They see the world through resurrected eyes - what others see as purposeless, they know as filled with invincible hope.  Such men and women become living signs of hope.  Such hope looks crazy to those who refuse it.  To be a sign of hope means always to appear as if you have lost your mind.  Those wise with the wisdom of this world call this delusional.   The great spiritual writers call this Holy Inebriation.

To conquer death, we must be recreated in Truth.  Recreation, the new creation, re-establishes us in the Truth we have primordially rejected.  Without the Truth, we die and our lives are simply a living death.  We must know the Truth, we must live the Truth.  We must feel and think the Truth: the Truth about ourselves, the Truth about God. 

To be inebriated with the Blood of Christ is to be completely overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord who teaches all truth.   The Holy Spirit comes through Christ's blood and into the deep hidden recesses of our memories, thoughts and feelings - making all things new, conforming all these inner powers to the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.   For this new creation to begin, we must follow Christ into the Garden and learn to say with Him, "Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me.  But not my will, your will be done."

Those who have the courage to learn to pray this prayer with and in the Heart of Jesus will discover the blessings of poverty, hunger, thirst, sorrow, purity of heart, peacemaking, and persecution - not only for righteousness sake, but also for the sake of Jesus Himself.  This happens today in alarming public ways.  It also happens in the more hidden places of our day to day work and family life.  St. Therese, the Little Flower, first tasted it after Christmas Midnight Mass.  Maximilian Kolbe filled himself with it in a starvation bunker. The point is when you are rejected, despised or betrayed because of your love of Jesus, Jesus has blessed you, permitted you to be identified with Him.  He has entrusted you with discipleship and is teaching you how to carry your Cross and follow Him.  The Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday has a whole new meaning for those following their crucified God.

This must be difficult to read - indeed it is solemn and the most serious reality of this life.  The truth about ourselves and about the Lord is hard to think about.  Oftentimes we feel the urge to skip over Christ's Passion, to leave him in the garden or on the Cross so that we can rush to the resurrection.  Indeed, the mystery of Holy Saturday and the wonder of Easter Morning we will share in later posts.    But for now, let us rest in the heart of Christ: the night before He died, His struggle with the Cross, His last loud cry.   It is in the Passion that Christ's heart is revealed and given to us.  It is in attending to what he suffered that we learn to rest in his heart.  It is in the Cross that we find union with God.  This is why what we are celebrating this week is not simply the calling to mind of tragic historic events.  Instead, we are reflecting on the very mystery of our new creation - how that mystery was revealed in history, and how that mystery carries us in the present moment.  Those who will wait with the Lord and keep vigil with Him will find themselves plunged into His life in a completely new way. 

Through the Blood the the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians find freedom from every lack of love.  Where there is no love, they find a way to put love, and because of the power of God, they find love.   Where there is a struggle to forgive, they find the courage to surrender their bitterness to God, and discover compassion for even their enemies.  Where there is the sting of indignation, the Holy Spirit teaches them how to pray for their persecutors.  May the Lord fill you with these graces as you struggle to rest in his Heart.