Monday, March 20, 2006

Not my will, but yours

Dave posted earlier about Jeremiah's anguish at having been mistreated after faithfully proclaiming God's words, and about how we need to create a space to lament in our Christian life.

The five sorrowful mysteries, which focus on the events leading up to and including the death of Our Lord, give us precisely this space to lament. In the first sorrowful mystery, the agony in the garden, we find Jesus alone and sweating drops of blood. Like Jeremiah, Jesus knows how obedience to God's will means all sort of mistreatment at the hands of others. Also like Jeremiah, he still desires to do what is right despite the consequences. In the fifth joyful mystery (finding Jesus at the temple), we see how Jesus obeyed his earthly parents - now he chooses to obey his heavenly father. In the third luminous mystery (preaching the Kingdom) Jesus said "blessed are you who are persecuted" - now he is to suffer persecution. In the fourth luminous mystery (the transfiguration) Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus of his "exodus" - now he is going to live out what he had spoken of. In the fifth luminous mystery (the Last Supper) he says there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend. Now he is going to do just that.

Like any sane person, he desires to avoid this trial and he prays "let this cup pass". And yet, he chooses to follow not his own will but that of the Father. In this period of agony, he prays for us - that we may be one.

As we consider the suffering of Our Lord, let us remember not only the words of Isaiah, "by his wounds we are healed", let us not only remember that it is our sins that brought on the need for Jesus to suffer for us. Wounds and suffering are, unfortunately, common place just as our sins are all too common. What is uncommon and remarkable is that Our Lord willingly chooses to suffer. Not only that, but he chooses to suffer for our sake while we are in the midst of our sins so that we may be freed from our sins.

If Christ chose to suffer to free us from our sins, let us give him every opportunity to free us from our sins instead of clinging senselessly to them. Let us also be willing to suffer for the benefit of others - especially those who sin against us even though it may bring times of great agony and lament as it did to Our Lord and to Jeremiah.

Yes, we need space in our lives in our Church to lament and grieve over the tragedies in life. Let us learn from Our Lord what to do with this space by striving to imitate his behavior in the garden: obeying will of the Father rather than our own and willingly suffering for the sake of others. Easier said than done, of course, for most of us the temptation in the times of lament will be to wallow in self-pity instead of looking to the Father and to others. It was difficult for Our Lord, it was difficult for Jeremiah, it will be difficult for us as well.

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