November 29, 2012

With God's Love Wounds of Sin become Wounds of Love

Transforming "wounds of sin into wounds of love" is something that St. John of the Cross describes the Holy Spirit as accomplishing in the soul. To help us understand this effect of God in the soul, St. John of the Cross describes God's action as a cautery - the application of something physically hot to a wound, "If applied to a wound not made by fire, it converts it into a wound caused by fire." (See Living Flame of Love, 2.7)

In prayer, God can touch the soul in such a beautiful way that all past grievances are forgotten and all past guilt surrendered to His Mercy. Such prayer anticipates what awaits those who hope in God and choose to live by love -- at the final judgment; every tear shall be wiped dry, every sorrow consoled. Divine Love is that good.
This means, when I am vulnerable to the love of God in prayer, He is able to help me forgive and even to forget grievances that burden my heart. Rather than disposing me to render a harsh judgment toward the person who has hurt me - the Holy Spirit teaches me how to pray for that person and how to have compassion for them in their misery. This also means that when I struggle to forgive someone it is not merely because of the wicked thing they have done, but this struggle also speaks to the ignorance of God's love I am suffering.

To be merciful, I need mercy -- and here I am a sick beggar who must rely completely on the Lord. Yet God would not give us the desire to be merciful if He did not intend to give us the love we need. This love, which He gives in prayer to those who confidently ask with perseverance, this mysterious love makes wounds of sin into wounds of love because each wound of sin becomes a beautiful new way for us to discover the inexhaustible riches of Christ.

Not to know the love of God is the deepest misery of all -- but to be pierced by His Mercy, if only for a one wondrous moment - no wound is more healing for the soul, and the only thing that can heal such a wound of love is to become more vulnerable to love, to allow oneself to be pierced by love over and over again, "to such an extent that the entire soul is dissolved into a wound of love. And now all cauterized and made one wound of love, it is completely healthy in love, for it is transformed in love."