He who learns must suffer, and, even in our sleep, pain that we cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God. - Aeschylus

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Love it to Death: The Miracle of Love

Many of us are looking for a miracle, or perhaps a miraculous occurrence by another name because we don't actually believe in anything supernatural.  We want to have food in the belly of every child in the world, or peace between all the nations of the earth, or justice for the oppressed and vulnerable.

And we want a miraculous event to bring this about, whether by way of a divine power, the inevitability of history, or by simply implementing our favored ideology worldwide.  It would be just as miraculous if these things happened by the inevitability of history or the implementation of our ideology as it would if it happened by divine fiat.

But perhaps these are not the miracles you are looking for.  Maybe you simply want a family member or a friend cured of cancer, or an orphaned child to be adopted, or your parent to live long enough to meet their grandchildren.  Maybe you want simply to be loved fully, not for any particular pragmatic reason by itself, but because your very existence is wondrous.

Maybe you wish that you lived in the lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth, when he was healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, and weeping the tears of love for his friend Lazarus before raising him from the dead.  Maybe you would prefer to be in the place of the Roman centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant and told Jesus that he was not worthy to have Jesus enter under his roof.  Maybe you would prefer to be the one whose water was turned into wine at the request of Mary, the Mother of God.

These miracles performed by the God who is Love, who sent Love Himself to us to offer us a hand up after the Fall brought us down, are indeed the miracles of Love.  The healing of the lepers, the granting of sight to the blind, the making the lame walk, the feeding of the multitude with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, the casting out of demons, the escaping of the murderous mob were all the miracles of Love, a demonstration of God's love for us.

His Love was, is, and shall be grander, more bold, and more complete than anyone had expected.  His chosen people expected a Messiah who was truly great, and He chose to send His only begotten Son to them, coming in person to show His love and tenderness.  His chosen people were expecting the Kingdom of Israel reestablished on earth, and He chose to invite us all into the Kingdom of Heaven.

His miraculous entrance into the world was an even bigger set of miracles than anyone was expecting.  He did not merely lift us up to Heaven by the strength of His arm; in His compassion which is truly a suffering-with and a suffering-for He joined fully in our human suffering from birth until death, bringing the King of Heaven whose kingdom was indeed not of this world so that those of us who are of this world would have the chance to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The suffering of Love was a miracle grander and bolder than we imagined it could be, God entering fully into the human life so that human lives might be sanctified and enter into the divine life of Love.  The death of our Love was a miracle of mercy greater than we can fully comprehend as children of the Fall in a fallen world.  The wounds of Love brought to us a healing so profound that we do not understand it until it has been given to us.  The Miracle of Love is given freely to us, and it is more than we ever dared to hope for.

The miracle of Love is not that He transforms stones into bread, but that He transforms our hearts of stone into hearts full of divine love alone.  The boldest miracle of Love was not that He walked on water, but that He descended to Hades to free the righteous dead from the very chains of death so that they might have life eternal.  The grandest miracle of love was not that He fed thousands of people with a few loaves and fishes, but that He gave us His very Body as Bread from Heaven, the new and greater manna which we are through His grace allowed to receive at the table of the communion of saints.

The Miracle of Love was that His Sacred Heart broke for us so that our broken hearts could be reformed and made whole, our hearts able to participate fully in the sacred mysteries because He participated fully in the mysteries of the world.  The Miracle of Love was that he walked on earth to establish a bridge by which those on earth might, by living the life of the cross, one day cross over on the via dolorosa to His Heavenly Kingdom.

The Miracle of Love is that He loved to death all that separates us from being able to choose to enter fully into the divine life of love, life in the fullness of time as adopted sons and daughters of the living God who lived and died for us so that we might live with Love.

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