Where is the risen Christ in our suffering world? He seems to have fallen in love with our suffering because he’s so passionately laid hold of it and made it his. He is known to the whole world as the Man of Sorrows. Yet he came to give us life, a life full of joy.
It’s not with our suffering that Christ fell in love, but with us. He identified himself so completely with our suffering because our lives are necessarily made up of it. It is the inescapable consequence of sin. No one can escape it; everyone must somehow either make friends with suffering or be broken by it. No one can come close to another person, let alone love them, without coming close to their suffering.
Christ did far more, he actually married our suffering, he made Death his bride, and in the consummation of his love, he gave her his life. Christ has lived each of our lives, he has faced all our fears, suffered all our griefs, overcome all our temptations, labored in all our labors, loved in all our loves, died all our deaths.
He took our humanity, just as it is, with all its wretchedness and ugliness, and gave it back to us just as his humanity is, transfigured by the beauty of his living, filled full of his joy. He came back from the long journey through death, to give us his Risen Life to be our life, so that no matter what suffering we meet, we can meet it with the whole power of the love that has overcome the world: “I have told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world, you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33, The Message trans.).
He has come back as spring comes back out of the ground, renewing the earth with life, to be a continual renewing of life in our hearts, so that we may continually renew one another’s life in his love, so that we may be his Resurrection in the world. We are the resurrection, going on always, always giving back Christ’s life to the world.
In every life, there are many secret resurrections. In our sin, we are the tombs in which Christ lies dead, but at the first moment of sorrow for sin he rises from the dead in us, the life of the world is renewed by our sorrow, the soul that was in darkness radiates the morning light. In the moment that we are forgiven, the world is flooded with forgiveness.
No wonder that the angels rejoice when one sinner does penance, more than over the nine-nine who need no penance, for the resurrection in the soul of the sinner is complete. It’s not just a poor sinner licking his wounds and limping on, crippled by the past; it is Christ risen, alive and whole.
All day long, all over the world, there is resurrection. A tiny infant is baptized, and Christ lives again, strong in his new life. A convert is received into the Church, a little appalled and disappointed by the sense of emptiness in his own soul, after the long tension of his conversion, and Christ comes back to the world. A young man bashfully tells the monotonous story of his sins in confession, the words of absolution are spoken, and Christ lives again in the heart of mankind. A forgotten old woman dies in a nursing home. To those who close her eyes and cover her quiet face, nothing extraordinary has happened. But in the eyes of the eternal Father, Christ has risen again from the dead. And the Church can once again sing her eternal song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
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