Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Wholly Week": Wholly Impenetrable Mystery of Christ, Life, and Our Very Selves

In Monday's blog reflection I proposed that Christian's shift the focus during Holy Week from viewing Christ's passion and death as primarily an offering for sin and exploring it as a "bridge" to a deepened, healing, and transformative communion with the Trinity of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In other words, I proposed that Christian's view this week as "Wholly Week": the week in which we remember how Christ gave himself "wholly" for us that we might never be alone in all the experiences that constitute human life: especially experiences of struggle, suffering, tragedy, rejection, abandonment, and, even death. The reason for this shift of focus is quite straightforward: it forms a robust basis for a life-long love relationship with God.

When God gives himself "Wholly" to us in Christ and Holy Spirit, this means that God pours out for our pleasure, delight, contemplation, adoration, and intellectual, spiritual, and soulful stimulation the full, impenetrable mystery of Christ and, by extension, the full mystery of life and human life. A large part of what makes God, life, and, human life so exciting and adventurous is the impenetrable mystery inherent in it! By "impenetrable mystery" I very definitely do not mean that God, life, and human life cannot be fathomed or understood at all. Rather, I am referring to the inexhaustible depth of complexity and beauty that penetrates every nook, cranny, and corner of our world and lives. I was recently talking with a friend about the explosion of knowledge and technology in the last thirty to forty years. Both of us marveled at how these areas have been expanding so quickly. We came to the conclusion that the more humans delve into all that there is to know and all that can be created, the more rapidly and deeply will the vistas of science and technology unfold before us. In other words, there will likely be no end to the exponentially rapid expansion of our understanding and creativity! It truly boggles the mind and heart, doesn't it?

Bearing this in mind, let's consider the full, impenetrably mysterious plan of God in offering himself wholly in Christ. In yesterday's daily Mass Gospel from John, Jesus says to the disciples at the last supper after Judas has left them to betray him, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him." (John 13:31). If we measure what Jesus is saying through how we normally understand God's glory (meaning, God's truth, beauty, power, majesty, sovereignty, etc...) these words appear utterly absurd. How can God and Christ be glorified in and through betrayal, rejection, and eventually murder? What we've stumbled upon here is the wholly impenetrable mystery of Christ, life, and our very selves. Perhaps what is being said by Jesus is something akin to what Paul says in another part of scripture, namely, that "power is made perfect in weakness." Perhaps what is going on here is God bending so low in embracing the depths, ambiguity, and even tragedy of life that NONE OF IT, no matter how dark, dank, stinky, crappy, hazy, or crazy is outside of God's capacity to turn it into the very basis for the experience of God's Glory and the power of Christ's Resurrection. Maybe, just maybe, God is turning the "rules of life" inside out and making the basis for true life the willingness to sink into the mire of our lives and world and risk ourselves in the self same way that Jesus did. How mysteriously contrary this is to the conventional approach to life as consisting of security, wealth, prosperity, and a sense of ease and comfortability. Maybe our celebration of "Wholly Week" consists in accepting this impenetrable mystery of Christ, life, and our very selves as the bridge to experiencing God's Glory and true newness of life. Pat, TOR