‘And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to him, to ask him: Who art thou? And he confessed and did not deny: and he confessed: I am not the Christ.’
[Jn 1:19–20 (D-R)]
John the Baptist’s self identity was simply ‘I am not the Christ.’ Who are you? Not the Christ.
There is a strong human tendency to believe that I am the Christ, and it is expressed in the most materialistic and most “spiritual” tendencies of humanity. I think as if I am the solution/saviour of the world.
I am not the Christ.
I suppose I have to do it myself, figure out the problems, answer the questions, heal the wounds. Either because I am so very good and holy, or because I am all we’ve got. Either way, it is the same essential pride.
I am not the Christ.
I am not the solution. I am not the answer. I am not the saviour.
I am not the Christ.
The truth is, I am the problem; I am the question; I am the… savee? [is there a word for one in need of saving?]
Jesus is the Christ, and I am the one in need of the Christ.
Because I am the problem, I will be solved. Because I am the question, I will be answered. Because I mourn, I will laugh. Because I am poor, I will be rich. Because I am not the Christ, I can receive the Christ entirely.
I am not the Christ.
This is what Christian holiness is. It is an absolute refusal to look to our own strength, wisdom, or goodness, which are each less than nothing, and instead abandoning ourselves entirely to God. He alone is our strength, our wisdom, and our goodness.
We are united to Him, because we are not Him. If we are not Him, we will be One with Him, as the Father and the Son are One. If we are Him, we will be utterly apart from Him.
The Good News, of our liberation from death in all its forms, necessarily rejoices! There is no understanding of Christianity that is not ultimately a triumphant victory march. We parade around the city streets and occupy its squares, waving our flag and practising the freedom we declare to the world!
We are free, and we are bringing freedom. Life is ours, and no murderer can ever take it away.
Jesus of Nazareth has conquered death! By living fully and fearlessly, with no care for protecting or serving his finite self, His very death is life. He died giving us His life that conquers death.
To explain this without proclaiming it would be as absurd as trying to recreate a song without music. Indeed, who could say but not sing Alleluia? The word is sheer music!
Pentecost: when we received the Spirit- God’s own Joy & Freedom
At yesterday’s Good Friday liturgy, I rolled up my sleeves for the first time this year. So what? Well, my left forearm has some scars on it, and in these scars, open wounds on my mind and soul are visible.
In rolling up my sleeves, I wasn’t just responding to the beautiful weather; I was bringing my wounds, and so myself, before Jesus crucified. He is wounded to enter my wounds, He died to enter my death. He is naked before us: how could I hide myself from Him?
We have to let Jesus enter into us, through our wounds, our sins and our death. How? Through faith in Him and through His holy sacraments. In these, Jesus comes to us in our sins, our struggles, and our suffering, and brings us His life that conquers death.
When we give these up to Him, and let Him enter into them, something mysterious occurs. As He touches them with His mercy, He fills and transforms them with His self-sacrificial love, and in doing so, we find them united to His Holy Cross. Our wounds are united to His.
And His wounds have been glorified by His resurrection from the dead.
God bless you, and Happy Easter!
He is risen!
I love the San Damiano cross. Jesus’ arms are open wide in a priestly gesture, of offering, gift, and welcome. The Cross is an act of love and freedom.
I don’t really talk much about my own life here, and certainly not about my mental health. Suffice to say for now, that it feels like its falling apart; like everything I have relied on and hoped for is being lost before my eyes.
And it serves me right. Why? Because I literally asked for it. It was for a long time my prayer, and still is, that God humble me completely. I guess I just didn’t see it looking like this…
As my “everything” seemingly falls apart (I suspect and hope the situation in many ways isn’t as bad as it sometimes feels), I see that I’ve been trusting and hoping in things that aren’t God. And that’s the way to certain disappointment. Yes, I was hoping in God too, but not in God alone.
When I reached my recent lowest, I felt and believed that all that I have and I am is nothing, that all that I have and I am is completely worthless and useless. What could anyone possibly want with me? What could God ever do with this?
But this is pride. To suppose that my weakness– my nothingness– limits God in any way, is madness.
‘Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.’
2 Corinthians 12:8-10
I look to the cross, and I see that God isn’t victorious by strength, but by faith and obedience. It is in Christ crucified, and in Him alone, that I am to place my trust. It is by dying to self, living in reckless sacrificial love, in union with His holy cross, that I am to live and serve God.
‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.’
So here’s me. However much or little (or nothing) I am, I am God’s, and that is all I need. I’m not called to be strong or talented or valuable, but merely faithful; the victory is His concern, not mine: how could I ever achieve resurrection?
I just hope and pray God lets me remember and accept this when I really need to.
God bless you
P.S. I feel I should also mention, that a part of this feeling of losing everything was the loss of my supposed righteousness when I fell to a certain sin. Thank God I lost this illusory righteousness. I am a sinner, and my only justification is God’s love for me.
I have no righteousness, but I share in Jesus’ own. I have no life in me, except His.
Today has been an incredible, beautiful day, filled with wonder and love. Yes, I’m (still) single. But surprisingly (for me), there’s no bitterness or fear in that fact. There’s no fear of ending up sad and alone.
I know that love is far bigger than all this. It’s far more than “finding the one”. It’s more than having loyal companions in life. It’s even more than all the people in your life. Love is bigger than everything.
And today, listening to the rain and not my iPod as I walked to mass, hearing God’s word and Father’s homily, receiving Jesus in his Eucharist, eating and laughing with friends, reading about St. John of the Cross, doing dissertation work, listening to Radio 1’s live lounge and dancing, and going for a night run, I was thoroughly immersed in God’s love, present in His whole creation, in me, and in my very existence. All the universe is made in love, for love!
And I also joyfully contemplated how God reveals Himself in the love between couples. How we cannot completely commit ourselves to everyone, because we (most of us, at least) cannot be in two places at once; but, so that we can show God’s absolute, undivided loving commitment, we do so for just one individual, giving our entirety to them alone, as God gives His entirety to each of us. (Meanwhile, celibate people reveal God’s love by giving themselves entirely to all humanity, perhaps unable to be all for any one, but demanding nothing in return.)
I was also caught by how the phrase ‘To be together as though still alone’, captures both the fullness and emptiness of love. Fullness, because if when together you feel no judgment, and perfectly happy to be yourself as though alone, then you are loved, and by their love, they give you your being. Emptiness, because if when together, their lack of acceptance isolates you, so you can’t share yourself, they are not loving.
Also, the song ‘Mirrors’ by Justin Timberlake. Such an incredible expression of love, to the point that it begins expressing Divine love.
As far as I’m aware, it’s the Bible that first suggests that love makes us a reflection:
‘Love never ends… For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.’
1 Corinthians 13:8…12,13
And St. Clare saw,
How did Justin figure this out??? God bless him.
So if being in a couple is so wonderful, why am I fine with being single, at least for now? Because I could not be loved any more than I already am, and I know I am called to love absolutely at each and every moment of my life. I have Jesus, no one can take him from me, and with him I am to bring him to the world. By his cross and resurrection, I know that love never fails. I know that the fulness of love and life are already mine for the taking.
What’s the point of lent? Lent is our penitential season. We look at where we’ve been going wrong, and we begin, with the help of God’s mercy, to make it right. We take a long, hard look at ourselves, see our wretchedness, and turn to God.
Leo Tolstoy said,
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Lent is the time when we must commit to changing ourselves, and allowing God to change us.
Lent is the season for making a comeback. It is preparation for us to unite ourselves to the resurrection, the greatest comeback of all time. So if we sin, make a comeback- it’s lent. If we fail at our fasts, prayers or good deeds, make a comeback- it’s lent. If you haven’t been up to scratch in any way, now is the time to make your big comeback.
The best way, of course, is by confession. Walking straight up to God, and submitting ourselves to His mercy, to His plan, to His salvation.
So why do we fast? I think the benefits of prayer and good deeds are obvious, but the point of fasting and self-denial is a bit tougher. We don’t give up anything because pleasure is bad, or discomfort is good. We do it to learn to depend upon God.
‘He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.’
By fasting, we turn our backs on our old ways. We confess that the world gives neither security nor satisfaction, and as long as we look for them in the world, we don’t look for them in God.
When revolutionaries were making headway across the world, they would outlaw whatever they considered too “bourgeois” for their new life. Suits and ties, golf, various artworks, and more, had to be cut off. To make a new world, and with it a new man, the world would have to be aggressively purged of its old ways.
Make no mistake: Christianity is a greater revolution than Marxism. Marxism was a revolt against capitalism, on the basis of economics; Christianity is a revolt against death in all its forms, on the basis of Divine love.
In lent we are called especially, to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, in the firm faith that at the end there will be Easter, resurrection and glory! We join ourselves to his love, sufferings and death, knowing that in these we find the true, absolute, eternal life.
Anyway, that’s enough from me. I’ve got some repenting to do!