Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
– Jesus, Luke 17.33
There were some who did not abandon Jesus, even when it looked like they could no longer gain anything from him. They no longer felt or saw the Hope that he gave them. They did not expect or pray for any miracles, happiness, consolation, insight, wisdom, or resurrection. They loved him beyond only being a recipient of his life and Love. They didn’t run away from the pain of his crucifixion even when everyone else did. They came closer. Because of this, the joy of his resurrection was even greater and more real to them!
In a strange and beautiful way, they became a part of the crucifixion. They didn’t leave his body. They buried it. What is our part in the crucifixion?
We normally ignore the ugly painfulness in life by trying to cover it up with the wonderful blissfulness parts of life. It’s how addiction begins forming. Things become addictions because we cyclically and desperately try canceling out the areas of ugly painfulness in our lives with blissfulness. But blissfulness does not cancel out or erase life’s ugly painfulness. It only helps us forget it for a moment. And we confuse that “bliss” with freedom from pain. They coexist together. And to ignore one is to not fully be present to the other.
Here’s another way of looking at it. Jesus had seemingly failed these people who buried him. They expected and hoped to be saved and set free and then be a part of his earthly kingdom, but he died. Many felt like Jesus failed them and so they ran. A select few didn’t run, but came closer by tending to his dead body.
Where has Jesus failed you? Did you pray for something and instead receive the exact opposite? Did you believe in something and later find that it wasn’t true? I think those experiences are all a reality, especially for any of us who’ve grown up in church.
But what are you doing about it? Have you fled from that time when Jesus was seemingly dead to you? Have you tried covering it up with Scriptural platitudes? Have you tried ignoring that it ever happened in the first place or completely disassociating yourself?
These marvelously loving people stayed with the dead body of Jesus. We can do the same. We can go back to the areas in our hearts where we felt like Jesus was dead to us and sit with it. Tend to it. Bury it. Ask the horrible questions we’re afraid to ask. Say the things we we’re terrified to say. One thing is for certain, Jesus is the resurrection. If we refuse to be honest about those times in our lives when Jesus was dead to us, religion has failed us, or church has hurt us, how can we experience the resurrection?
This is not an excuse for wallowing in bitterness or anger. Those are responses to these points in our lives, not the points themselves. This is a hope to get us through the bitterness and anger that have veiled us from these points so we can lovingly and trustfully approach our moments of ugly painfulness and disappointment.
Stick with Christ through the areas where Christ has seemingly abandoned you. Let your faith be about more than getting things and consolations from God. Let it be about Love; in all and through all. Then, failures start looking a lot more like opportunities and moments of hope-fullness.
Christ Jesus, grant me to love You, not that I might gain eternal heaven, nor escape eternal hell, but, Lord, to love You just because You are my God.
– Saint Ignatius of Loyola