Look at a crucifix. Reflect on whom that corpse embodied.
The Architect of the Universe, compacted into that bleeding mass.
Can I honestly say, and accept in the depths of myself:
“Yes, it’s inescapable. I am worth that.”
-William J. O’Malley, Holiness
I recently watched the film Calvary and I found myself deeply affected by it.
What really stood out to me was the rawness, the brokenness of the characters. How they represented our woundedness, a fallen world. It was real. And then how the protagonist, Fr. James, like Christ, meets his flock where they are. He loves them and accepts them in their brokenness.
We all carry our own crosses. We all trek towards our own calvary, bearing the weight of past failures, grief, imperfections, regrets…
As I walk my weary way on this earthly pilgrimage, I often consider the weight of my own cross. I wonder what my life would be like without Anxiety, without Obessisive Compulsive Disorder. The days when I struggle to focus, when I notice my jaw clenched tightly shut and my shoulders tense and I have to remind myself to relax. Days when I feel both happy and sad simultaneously. A deep pain that can’t really be explained but which is overlaid with a gratitude. A gratitude that my hurt, my brokenness is not who I am, and that there is a hope beyond any earthly experience, no matter how horrific.
My burden, as small as it is in relation to the world’s pain, helps me to love and appreciate goodness both in myself and in others. What I notice too is that without Christ’s help, without Him walking by my side, helping me carry my cross, if He were to leave me for just an instant, I would be crushed by the weight.
Redemptive suffering is not easy. It can sound romantic sometimes to “offer it up”. To offer ones hurts and sorrows up to God as a prayer – a way of asking Him to enter into our suffering and bear it with us and for us. Which He does.
And as beautiful as it is, it is not easy. When we suffer, we want to not suffer and when I was in my darkest space a year ago in London, I wanted to die. I didn’t want to “offer it up.”
Yet… God was with me in that darkness and that Calvary I experienced in London has been followed by a resurrection. New life, joy, peace… Am I still burdened by anxiety? Yes but I have come to see that I can do nothing by my own strength. And that takes the pressure off!
When we look around the world today and see a broken, fallen world. When we see “nothing new under the sun,” and we feel hopeless, all we can do is trust in the ressurection. Trust that God will have the final say and He will make all things new.
God loves us. We’ve become so desensitised to that saying but I challenge you now to reconsider it. God, the Creator of life and the One who holds everything in its place, who is holding this moment, right now as you read, in existence. This God loves you.
Have you ever been so frustrated and hurt that all you want to do is smash something or hit someone? Well Christ took our blows. He saw our pain, entered into it and as we poured our rage, pain, turmoil, confusion, hatred into each lash, each hammering and piercing of flesh, as we lifted Him up
and mocked Him from our own insecurities, mocked Him from our own fears and pride, He took it all on and loved us, and forgave us.
And now we are weary. We’ve poured and poured and poured our pain out, we’ve tried filling the emptiness with everything we can think of, and now, exhausted we collapse.
It is here, with our faces in the dust, that Christ comes to us.
If the world seems hopeless to you right now, consider that dark day on Calvary as God hung from that Cross. The day God died. And from that darkness and desolation, when all seemed lost, Christ’s victory was won.