Thursday, March 12, 2009

God calls us to suffer the whole of reality...

Our remembrance that God remembers us will be the highway into the future, the straight path of the Lord promised by John the Baptizer (Luke 3:4). Memory is the basis of both pain and rejoicing: We cannot have one without the other.

Do not be too quick to heal all of those memories, unless that means also feeling them deeply and taking them all into your salvation history. God calls us to suffer the whole of reality, to remember the good along with the bad. Perhaps that is the course of the journey toward new sight and new hope. Memory creates a readiness for salvation, an emptiness to receive love and a fullness to enjoy it.

Strangely enough, it seems so much easier to remember the hurts, the failures and the rejections. In a seeming love of freedom God has allowed us to be very vulnerable to evil. And until we have learned how to see, evil comes to us easily and holds us in its grasp.

Yet only in an experience and a remembering of the good do we have the power to stand against death. As Baruch tells Jerusalem, "you must rejoice that you are remembered by God" (Baruch 5:5, NAB). In that remembrance we have new sight, and the evil can be absorbed and blotted out.

Richard Rohr, from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 26

"God calls us to suffer the whole of reality..." I feel somehow that that is true not only in the sense that Rohr implies, being prepared to recall the good in our own lives as well as the bad we more easily remember, but also in the sense that we must be prepared to suffer along with others - for that is the meaning of compassion, to suffer (or feel) with - whoever or wherever they are, and to rejoice with them also.

I have sometimes thought that the capacity for compassion - I mean compassion for all of creation, not just for our fellow human beings - lies at the heart of what it means to be human. When we pray, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner", with our hearts open to the suffering, and the joy, of the whole of reality, then we are making ourselves into little lightning rods, conducting into all we hold in our hearts some of the immeasurable mercy of Christ. As he was God's love and grace and mercy (see e.g. Psalm 145.8-9) so we are, in however small a way, Christ's.

The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
       slow to anger and rich in love.

The LORD is good to all;
       he has compassion on all he has made...

The LORD is faithful to all his promises
       and loving toward all he has made.

The LORD upholds all those who fall
       and lifts up all who are bowed down...

My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
       Let every creature praise his holy name
       for ever and ever.

(Psalm 145:8-9; 13-14; 21)

1 comment:

Veritas said...

I think you have hit the nail on the head. We are to join Jesus' journey to calvary as he takes on the suffering of all humanity. We too are called to carry each others burdens and pain.