Thursday, July 30, 2009

My measurements…

We are measured by our capacity for love and our love is measured by its capacity for suffering. Forgiveness means opening our arms wide––cruciform––to those who admit they hurt us and saying, "Thank you for your apology. You may now hit me again, but please don't. I love you." Love is pain, but it is the only way to be like God.

Forgiving, cruciform arms have literally no way to hold anything against the offender. They have no way of wrapping around past offenses as an indignant barrier between the wounded and the repentant when the latter approaches to hug the former. Open arms, moreover, leave the chest vulnerable to further blows––to nothing less even than a mortal piercing strike to the heart.

Love is thus infinite in its emptiness, omnipotent precisely in its inviting feebleness. The cruciformity of forgiveness renders self-defense void, nullifies self-protection. This is the normative image of God which Christ reveals to the world. It is precisely in the wounded openness and omnipotent self-defenselessness of Christ that we see the heart of the Father in the light of the Spirit. As George Maloney, SJ, wrote in Be Filled with the Fullness of God (page 56), "It is the Father who is imaged to each of us in the torn, mangled body of Jesus…." In other words, Jesus is what the Father says to us; the Holy Spirit is how He says it to us.

Arms open wide. Cruciform. A pierced heart. A chilling but powerful thought for us to ponder. The Gospel of "Cruxianity" is that God only sees us in the blood of His Son. We are visible to Him only as stained by the Blood, which means we are simultaneously "red-handed" sinners guilty of the gravest crime, and yet also redeemed sinners precisely by being marked by that ominous blood.

Heaven is knowing we are blood-soaked and guilty yet blood-soaked and loved. Hell, in contrast, is being free of every stain of that blood––and thus being invisible to the merciful eye of God forever. The cruciformity of forgiveness is integral to Creation. God sees creation only in His Son. If we are not marked in the Son, we are unseen in the Spirit to the Father.

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