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Daily Meditations

Suffering, Pain, Hope

February 4th, 2013

Suffering is the necessary deep feeling of the human situation. If we don’t feel pain, suffering, human failure, and weakness, we stand antiseptically apart from it, and remain numb and small. We can’t understand such things by thinking about them. The superficiality of much of our world is that it tries to buy its way out of the ordinary limits and pain of being human. Carl Jung called it “necessary suffering,” and I think he was right.

Jesus did not numb himself or withhold himself from human pain, as we see even in his refusal of the numbing wine on the cross (Matthew 27:34). Some forms of suffering are necessary so that we know the human dilemma, so that we can even name our shadow self and confront it.

Brothers and sisters, the irony is not that God should feel so fiercely; it’s that his creatures feel so feebly. If there is nothing in your life to cry about, if there is nothing in your life to yell about, you must be out of touch. We must all feel and know the immense pain of this global humanity. Then we are no longer isolated, but a true member of the universal Body of Christ. Then we know God not from the outside but from the inside!

~Adapted from Richard Rohr, Radical Grace: Daily Meditations

 

“And Mary remembered all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:19, 52

Memory is the basis for both pain and rejoicing: We cannot have one without the other, it seems.

Do not be too quick to heal all of those bad memories, unless it means also feeling them deeply, which means to learn what they have to teach you. God calls us to suffer (read: “allow”) 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. It is much more common to gather our life energy around a hurt than a joy, for some sad reason. Remember the good things even more strongly than the bad, but learn from both. And most of all, as the prophet Baruch said, “rejoice that you are remembered by God” (5:5), which is the Big Memory that can hold and receive all of the smaller ones.

~Adapted from Richard Rohr, Radical Grace: Daily Meditations

 

The supreme irony of the whole crucifixion scene is this: He who was everything had everything taken away from Him. He who was perfect was totally misjudged as “sin” itself (Romans 8:3-4). The crucified Jesus forever tells power and authority, and all of us, how utterly wrong we can be about who is in the right and who is sinful (John 16:8). All human solidarity and sympathy was taken away from Him and He finally had to walk the journey alone, in darkness, in not-knowing, as most humans finally have to do.

Jesus hung in total solidarity with the pain of the world and the far too many lives on this planet that have been “nasty, lonely, brutish, and short.” After the cross, we know that God is not watching human pain, nor apparently always stopping human pain, as much as God is found hanging with us alongside all human pain. Jesus forever tells us that God is found wherever the pain is, which leaves God on both sides of every war, in sympathy with both the pain of the perpetrator and the pain of the victim, with the excluded, the tortured, the abandoned, and the oppressed since the beginning of time. I wonder if we even like that. There are no games of moral superiority left. Yet this is exactly the kind of Lover and the universal Love that humanity needs.

What else could possibly give us a cosmic and final hope? This is exactly how Jesus redeemed the world “by the blood of the cross.” It was not some kind of heavenly transaction, or “paying a price” to God, as much asa cosmic communion with all that humanity has ever loved and ever suffered. If he was paying any price it was for the hard and resistant skin around our souls.

~Adapted from Richard Rohr, The New Great Themes from Scripture (CD)