The blood, the water, the flesh, the cries, the agony. You might think it is the crucifixion, but it is instead an anonymous woman, giving birth, in a stable, with her husband, in an obscure village. Mary’s passion stretches nine months from the moment she receives the Word in her womb through the high drama of bringing forth the living God into the world. Let us ask ourselves whether we have received that same seed deeply in our our own hearts; whether we have protected that seed and cultivated its growth within us; and whether we shall be courageous enough to suffer through those same glorious labor pains in order to be, like Mary, an instrument of God’s revealing action in the world. In the same way that biology ensures that no two children are the same, the fruits of each of our acts of faith will be unique: some shall be prophets, others teachers, others healers, others helpers, others leaders (cf. 1 Cor 12:28-31). Together, we shall become the Tota Mater, that is, the cosmic woman who spends eternity joyfully fondling the vulnerable God in our laps, sharing our offspring with each other, sanctifying the universe all the while. On this Christmas Day, let’s choose to be like Mary, trusting that she will indeed make us like her Son. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Risk, O glorious risk! You make it possible for me to transcend the narrow confines of my self-containment. Risk, O glorious risk! You provide a path out of my stifling logic and formulas. Risk, O glorious risk! You rescue me from the so-called safety that atrophies my spirit. Risk, O glorious risk! You challenge me. You see through my defenses. You expose my fear. Oh how I desire to encounter the mystery of it all! Oh how I long to be in union with the all! Deliver me, therefore, from the instinct to grab, to take hold of, to clasp onto. Interrupt that moment when the weight of clinging takes over. Spread my arms wide. Open my hands. Make me generous in receptivity. Indeed, you are not something to be mastered, but the master who teaches me something about life. Silence is the language that you speak. Courage is your favorite virtue. Your way is wide open. May we, thus, be partnered together on this journey. May we walk together side by side into the great unknown. May we have life together. Risk, O glorious risk, you enlarge my heart forever. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
“Hurt people hurt people” is a popular phrase in the world of psychology and in recovery circles. It is nature’s law of spiritual inertia: the momentum of our own pain in life naturally carries over into our relationships and behaviors – and we don’t even realize it! It is thus no wonder that oftentimes perpetrators of sexual abuse are themselves the victims of sexual abuse. In many ways such a phenomenon seems counterintuitive, as one would think that a person who has been damaged in a certain way would not want to impose such suffering on others, but the sad logic is that the pain which consumes us simply becomes normative for how we see the world and operate. What breaks this cycle? What frees us from being slaves to our past experiences? What becomes the boundary-marker where our pain reaches an ending point that some new vision of life might arise? It is of course Christ crucified and only Christ crucified. Indeed, we must learn to beg for the intervention of the Word who comes to us in our poverty, enters into our mess, cleans us up, takes our place and invites us to experience the Father’s love first-hand. A new glorious logic emerges, as by his wounds we are healed (Is 53:5), and we, like him, become hurt people who help people find their own way to the Father. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.
Look down at your feet. There God has led you. Look at your hands. With them serve. This is a trustworthy recipe for the Christian life. In a Church that has all sorts of Kingdom-building architects and worker bees, it can be easy to lose sight of the point. The point is to enter into a trusting relationship with our heavenly Father – allowing our feet to constantly be led to new places (cf. Jn 21:18) – and to draw others into that same love all the while – with our very hands (cf. Lk 10:37). Let’s, therefore, do a real examination of our hearts this evening: What prevents me from following where God is actually leading me? What holds me back from reaching out to others in service? Is it a lack of trust? Is it fear? Am I confused? What must I do to move forward?! We shall come to discover a deep logic in our lives, a pattern that ultimately looks like dancing where we, freed from the bondage of our own stuff, simply enter into an exciting and unceasing partnership with the One Whom Our Hearts Have Loved All Along (cf. Song 3:3). The dancing goes on until everyone is dancing and then, together, we dance for all eternity! What are we waiting for? Let’s get those hands and feet moving. Let’s boogie! Ave Crux, Spes Unica!