March 12, 2019
Lent is a time to focus upon our identity in Christ and stop drifting through life. We are called to enter the freedom of Jesus, which is really the obedience of Jesus. His desire to listen to His Father in all things is the path He invites us to join with Him. We enter this path through the sacramental life as it reaches our hearts, the place where God enters and we receive Him… or hide from Him.
If we want to know Christ we have to meet Him at the weakest point of our will, at the place where we are “falling apart.” We meet Him there…upon your OWN PERSONAL CROSS.
As you hang upon your cross, that place where you are invited to meet evil with love—do not neglect to notice that you are being BEHELD there by Christ: “Jesus, looked at him (Peter) and loved him” (Mark 10:21). The Christian life is the discovery of Christ beholding us. Christ loving us first. That means He saw us first.
When we are suffering it is hard to detect that it He beholds us in love. Faith invites us to relate your sufferings to Jesus’ look of love. Let Him share your suffering. Sometimes we think God is silent in the face of human suffering, but in Christ’s crucifixion, He let out a loud cry and is silent no more. He shares in all our suffering now. He enters all our suffering now.
Through the Eucharist we become one with God, not despite our sufferings, but in and through them. Our wounds become new meeting places of love. He wants to enter our weaknesses by way of our participation in the Eucharist.
St. Gregory of Nyssa associated the Eucharist with a “remedy” for sin, noting that Christ’s body is stronger than death. As we receive Christ’s body again and again, all our sufferings can be attended to there by Love itself. There is power in our devotion to the Eucharist. In a spiritual way, we must unite our heart, who we are, with who Christ is, not just as an idea but in His body, both glorified and ecclesially. We do this by means of worship, and we give ourselves over to Him. All our sufferings become united to His and so none are wasted. Instead they become incorporated into His work of salvation. Keep nothing from Christ and He will use all to hasten our salvation. By uniting our bodies with His at worship we pass beyond the self and our egos are healed by the relationship we have with Him.
As Thomas Dubay has noted, “the taproot of all healing is one’s deep love and intimacy with the Lord” (Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, p.75). As we head toward Easter do we love Him enough to abide at the cross, and enter His own suffering brought upon Him by love? Can we trust Him enough to give Him our sufferings, Love him enough to trust that He is healing us?
Do you realize you can Choose to stay in His Presence this Lent?
Are there other types of behavior you seek out in place of reconciliation with Christ when troubled by your own moral, physical or spiritual pain? Why do you go where the power is not salvific?
Are you free to Love? What binds you still? Can you draw from resurrection power at the Eucharist to be liberated from these chains?
Deacon James Keating, Ph.D. | Director of Theological Formation, Institute for Priestly Formation | Catechist & Spiritual Director, JPII Newman