Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Pondering the Wound of Charity
For a couple weeks now I've been thinking about love, and by that term, I mean Charity. This comes partially from my Moral Theology class regarding the Theological Virtue of Charity, and partially from my own musings over time on the Passion of Our Lord.
It should go without saying that when I look upon the Crucifix, I see love in its most pure form. There, in that moment, is contained....EVERYTHING. Even I, in my utter insignificance and desolation am caught up and drawn in to those Holy Wounds, becoming even less so that He can be revealed as more.
While attending a talk, some of the words of the priest who was speaking struck me and caused my "contemplative" side to make a connection. Nothing new or interesting, but only one of those little arrows from God that we all experience from time to time, when a teaching is suddenly internalized.
REAL Charity Wounds
I considered how real Charity creates a wound, a blessed wound that continually bleeds in such a way that it can't be staunched. This is not a "mushy" love, but rather, a type of pain not held inward, but expressed outwardly, like the very gush of arterial blood. It can't be contained. Yet the more it gushes, instead of causing mortal death, it rather is the very expression of the font of life.
Every so often I feel that blessed wound, and know that it has changed me. At times the bleeding is only a trickle. At times I staunch the wound myself with my sin, cutting myself off, refusing to serve the Lord. I let the blood flow clot, I wrap it up and I turn away.
It is only through the Sacrament of Confession that I bring that bandage in to be removed, for through God's grace, He reminds me of His own deep love for me, prompting me to realize that I cannot stop this flow and SHOULD not, for by bleeding, my own blood is united with that of Jesus.
I go to Confession and reveal this encrusted, infected bandage, this terrible blockage, this monstrous clot to the priest, who removes it gently and tells me how to let this blood of Charity flow more perfectly, how to, through this wonderful wound, unite myself to the eternal Word who waits only for me to stop placing obstacles in His way.
For when my blood, in this sense, flows, it is truly His, not mine. This wound that in life would be mortal death, in the Spirit, belongs to the mystical nature of our supernatural relationship with our Beloved Savior.
As He suffered and died, so are we all called to do, according to His Most Holy and Divine Will. Not on the natural plane, but the supernatural.
Purity of Love
I have been pondering my own dedication to Jesus, the purity of my love for Him. I have such a devotion to His Passion, and prefer to look upon the bloodiest of crucifixes to remind myself of the blood He shed...for me. I have a hard time accepting that very personal sacrifice, that it was done for ME.
In all honesty, I have a hard time considering that ANYONE would die for me, for I don't think I am worth such a sacrifice. I get caught up in looking at my nothingness, my sins of omission, my lack of importance in the world. Why would ANYONE think my life would be worth THAT sacrifice??? What a waste!
I find it hard to believe anyone would find ME worth dying for. If they were pondering it, I'd stop them and put my own head into the noose, or point the deadly scimitar to my own heart.
In my Pride, I wouldn't let anyone die for me so personally, for if I ever met someone so magnanimous, I would want them to live for they could contribute so much more to the world than me. Someone so brave is worth far more than me. It is I who should go...not them. In fact, I've experienced this, in part...a story for another post.
In any case, I didn't have a choice in the Sacrifice of Christ, did I? So I realize in that thought process that I think as Man thinks, not as God thinks. The God who called me out of eternity, through love and into being, continues to hold me in existence, and in fact, DIED for me on the Cross! In spite of who I am and who I am not.
The more I ponder the Cross, the more I love God, the more I understand the necessity of sacrifice, the more I expect the "curse" of suffering. For in order to be conformed to Christ, we have to suffer and become the Accursed ourselves.
Why Do I Love?
My own Love, my own Charity is imperfect.
The other night, while praying Compline before bed, I gazed upon the Crucifix and upon my picture of Jesus in His Agony. His love for US isn't in question. His very personal love for ME isn't put to the test; it has been clearly defined.
Rather, I considered the hierarchical nature of creation, of the Church, of love itself, and how God's own love begets love. We return to Him what He gives us, and the more we return, the more we grow. The more we allow to flow through us, the more we are given. The font of charity never decreases, but only becomes greater, even if it were to flood the world, it would not be enough.
I looked upon Our Lord and wondered: Do I love Him ONLY because of what He did for me? Is my love for Jesus dependent upon His Sacrifice on my behalf? If so, then it means I only love Him for what He has done for me. It means that my litmus test for God is, "What have you done for me lately"?
Do I love Jesus ONLY for what He did for my Benefit?
Can that be accurate? If so....how SELFISH!
I had to seriously consider that. Am I in love with Jesus just because He is the ONLY one who would ever die for me?
If so...my love is conditional. My love is based ONLY upon something that He DID...not who He IS.
That ISN'T love. Love isn't selfish.
I had to ask myself: if Jesus had NOT died upon the Cross for me, would I still love God? Or would I be selfishly looking for benefits of knowing Him?
Where is my focus? Am I just "receiving" or am I willing to GIVE?
Am I bleeding freely in union with Christ...or am I placing a barrier between my own personal sacrifice and anyone who might benefit from my immolation?
When I look back at the Prophets, at the great Women of Israel; they operated on Faith. They loved God not for what He DID for them, but for Who He IS. Even the Prophets, BEFORE they knew God, loved Him. Before they were privy to the Divine Processions...loved God in a particular purity of heart and intention. They knew the Mystery and loved because they recognized God was worthy of their Love...even before the Sacrifice.
The recognized God, they loved Him, and they poured their ENTIRE BEING out for Him on behalf of their people. It was THEIR sacrifice that preceeded HIS. It was THEIR Sacrifice that was proleptic of HIS and in fact, it was HIS Sacrifice that made theirs both meaningful and possible.
It was their FAITH expressed through WORKS that called down God's Justice. They raised their souls to Him and let their blood flow in a fountain we recognize even today. They sacrificed themselves in divine Charity, Hoping in what they could not see, having Faith in what they did not experience.
That wound of charity, that wound that comes only through the love of Christ Himself, binds mystically as it flows.
It is no wonder this doesn't make sense to the natural world, for it seems oppositional. Yet it is, as we read in the Gospels, that we lose what we try to gain and gain what we are willing to lose.
I realize that I do not love Jesus as I ought. I recognize that my love for Him is conditional, for my blood does not flow freely. I keep bandages on hand so I can stop the arterial rush when it becomes too much for me. I reserve that flow for my own desires, rather than trusting in God. In my imperfection, as that blood overflows, I don't recognize it as grace, but as my life leaving my control and so I grasp even at impure wrappings to slow it all down.
I do not love God as I ought. I have been deeply wounded by the Charity of Our Lord, but instead of letting the blood flow from me as it did from His wounds and His side, I bind it up in fear and trepidation.
Oh, that Jesus would rip those bandages away and force me to hold my hands outward so that His love could overflow!
Why, oh WHY can I not TRUST in His Divine Salvation?
Why, oh Why do I try to staunch the wound given to me through His Love?
Why, oh Why, can I not love as I ought, and why do I attach conditions upon what I am willing to give in spite of what has been so freely given?
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!