Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Pain of All Humanity is Given a Name

Since Easter Sunday I've been trying to put something into words.

It has to do with the fact that the wounds of the Risen Christ stand as an ongoing witness to His crucifixion.  It has to do with combating a trend in the Church to place a great divide between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, to think of the Resurrection as a way of simply erasing or making right everything that went before it.

But the Resurrection is more than that.  It is a way of incorporating suffering into glory, a way of giving meaning to sin, of putting selfish and self-consuming things into a context where they are not meaningless, but connected to everything else.

Perhaps that is the greatest temptation of hell - the despair in thinking that our sins have been meaningless, that they have served merely to spiral us downward into the abyss; the vision that we have been snakes eating our our tails, isolated, alone, self-destructive.

Matthew Tan writes (my emphasis) that seeing Jesus as a Divine Repairman getting things back in order is hardly a full conception of Jesus.

... the ancient Church Fathers ... regarded Jesus as more than just the Son of God, a God who became a man to walk on this earth. To them, Jesus was the Logos or reasoning for everything that was ever created. He was the underlying logic to everything that has existed and ever will exist and it is for this reason that Scripture says that it is in Jesus that "all things hold together" (Colossians 1:17). In particular, the crucified Christ for the Fathers was not an aberration to Jesus' life, but its very fulfillment, since by being nailed to the cross he revealed the reasoning of the entire universe, and revealed "all things hidden since the foundation of the world" (Matt 13:35)
And "all things" would include many of the things that we regard as alien to the order of life on earth, including pain and suffering. Indeed, Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, had this to say about pain in her book The Cry of Jesus Crucified and Forsaken:
"had it not been for this cross, all...the pain of all humanity, would not have been given a name"
It is only in the light of the Crucified is pain seen not as the disruption of the order of the universe, but the privilege standpoint from which to understand that order. Our ability to identify pain as such would not be possible without the pain of the Logos on the cross.

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