Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Song of Victory

Today marks Mid-Lent: the midpoint of the Great Fast. Each year, it falls during the week in which we venerate the Cross (this past Sunday was the Veneration of the Cross). In the middle of the desert struggle, we hold high the sign of Christ’s victory—of our victory, in Him—to remind us why we are embroiled in this struggle of the spirit. We press on in hope because we know our end is Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord, when Love conquers death. But, let’s face it, it is a struggle, and our hearts feel burdened with the weight of our pain…

During Matins this morning, the eighth ode from the Canon grabbed my attention: “…the lance pierced Your side, O Lord, wounding the enemy….”  The implication of this verse jerked me from my early-morning stupor into awareness of the hidden reality surrounding us: When I suffer as a result of the enemy’s attacks—whether directly assaulted by demons myself, as fallout from his acting on another person, or as a result of living in a fallen world—he’s actually hurting himself and contributing to his own downfall! Because my suffering, borne in union with Christ Crucified, makes the Cross—and therefore life and peace—more present in the world.  Despite how it appears from the world’s small perspective, a life spent on the Cross is not one of failure, defeat, or death. The Cross is a banner of victory, a “weapon of peace”! We exult in “the life-creating Cross”! Mystery of mysteries…

In class yesterday, our teacher through the Magdala Apostolate, Fr. David Anderson, said, “Jesus is victorious not in spite of the Cross, or on the other side of the Cross, but in the Cross itself.” These words stilled my troubled heart, knotted with my struggles, my sorrows.  Our lives are not fruitful in spite of, or on the other side of, our suffering; it is precisely in our sufferings that Love wins. When Jesus of Nazareth, once dead, burst from that tomb in Jerusalem nearly two millennia ago, He altered the very fabric of suffering so that never more would it be meaningless. Embraced in love, our pain becomes the place of intimate union in which we become one with Divine Love. Through the Cross, Jesus hides me in His Wounds, and He enters my wounds, in a marvelous exchange of nuptial love that necessarily bears fruit (even though the fruit may be hidden).

Fr. David continued, “God told Moses, ‘You can see my back, but you can’t see my face’ [Ex. 33:17-23], but when He does turn around [in the Incarnation] we see His Face and we find that God is by nature self-emptied humility in love.” By nature! This humble, self-emptying—self-giving—is the very essence of the Trinity. And we, children of God, are invited into this life of Love. We meet Love incarnate only on the Cross. 

When, finally, we behold Him face to face, we will say with St. Paul that our “momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18). So let us look to the Cross, a shape so familiar it often fails to move us, and see beyond it to the Love that once burned upon it. Let us hear its song of victory echoing through all our suffering: This is not the end; Love wins; the Resurrection is coming…

Sister Petra

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful reflection, Sr. Petra! Blessings! XO


Leave us a comment!