What is the significance of both the Jewish religious leadership and Roman soldiers being complicit in the death of Jesus? Perhaps the message is that no “camp” can rescue us from our fallen natures and distorted thinking. Indeed, the Jews spent their days meditating on the revealed word and offering worship in the temple, while the Romans were bastions of order, the rule of law and justice, yet neither were able to see who Jesus was or hear what he was saying. This tragic comedy of errors, however, should not just be relegated to the past. Don’t we identify with our own camps? I’m Catholic, I’m Christian, I’m American, I’m Democrat, I’m Republican. What prevents us from just going with the flow? What prevents us from conforming to the same collective and fuzzy logic of the masses? In the great drama of life, there is only one trustworthy position: to step out beyond political ideas and religious feelings to the Christ-place. Here, in this act of trust, we will discover our true selves, naked and vulnerable before God, but we shall spend our lives rejoicing in the truth. Let us therefore move past the false safety of being someone in the eyes of the world by making that definitive decision, with Jesus, to enter into the deep security of the Father’s love. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
I’m on a boat. In the middle of choppy waters. No land in sight. I look to my feet. Slowly rising waters. How will I survive? Worry, fear, anxiety, helplessness, paralysis, inactivity, silence. I’m on a boat. Perhaps, this describes the experience of being human with our many vulnerabilities and fragilities. Perhaps this is how Jesus felt in the desert, in the garden and on the cross, attacked as he was from every side. Perhaps this is why the Church, in her wisdom, invites us to pray these words as our salvation takes root on Good Friday: “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me” (Ps 69:1-3). We should not be naïve about this journey, however, as, indeed, our boats will sink and we will be submerged. But this is precisely where the Good News begins. Jesus allows his boat, punctured and wounded as it was, to go under (cf. Jn 2:19-22), yet God’s love was more pervasive than the waters, more enduring than the holes and more powerful than the seemingly definitive death he experienced. Ours is simply to permit Jesus to enter into our boats (cf. Lk 5:3) and trust in his resurrection. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
What is being in a relationship with God like? It’s like waking up in the morning, feeling our feet hit the floor, going through our morning routine, remembering what is on the schedule for the day, walking into the kitchen, sitting down to breakfast, putting the dishes in the sink, grabbing our bag, kissing our loved ones goodbye, getting into the car, backing out of the driveway…you get the idea! To be in a relationship with God, as the “ing” ending suggests, is progressive, that is, it keeps on happening. And what is more, to be in a relationship with God means that we allow our lives to move in a direction that we know at that deep level of intuition to be right, but which we are nevertheless unable to conceptualize or fully articulate. Our role in this great drama of human life and faith is simply to cooperate. We take ownership and enter fully into the system of God’s revealing action when we participate in the process, name the gifts, do the footwork, and become radically disposed to the divine direction. This is our salvation, and there are no shortcuts, only a lifetime of fidelity and commitment to our one true Beloved, in the ordinariness of daily life, with the hope of finally being in a healthy relationship that lasts. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!
Why do we lose the forest for the trees so often? It’s probably because we rely on our own powers to navigate our way through life! Indeed, the human mind, which a certain doctor of the church calls “an idol-making machine,” has us believing that every single thing that we encounter is the whole. In an instant, our hearts become attached to a person or place or thing, and, without realizing it, we organize ourselves around some phenomenon that is not God. It is like the story of the one monk who sees another monk staring up into the heavens in great awe one evening. He inquires what he is looking at, only to get a finger pointing to the moon. The first monk gets so enthralled by the finger that he never lifts his eyes to the moon and completely misses out on the spectacular sight. If we cultivate a deep trust in the living God who has the power to save us from this dead-end behavior, we will slowly, but surely, be liberated from the many things that enslave us and be drawn back to the truth (cf. Rom 1:25). We shall learn to walk blindly through the “dark wood of life,” to adopt the radical posture of the crucified Christ, and to receive all things as gift from the finger of the one who has ordained them from the beginning of time. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!