Daily Meditations

Hope Against Darkness; The Naked Now

Picture yourself before the crucified Jesus and recognize that he became what we are all afraid of and what we all deny: nakedness, exposure, vulnerability and failure. He became “sin” to free us from sin (Romans 8:3), the Cosmic Scapegoat who reveals our worst and best souls to those who will gaze long enough (John 19:37). He became the pleading image of what humans do to humans—so we could see it in stark outline, with the curtain of denial withdrawn. He became the crucified so we would stop crucifying. He became the crucified, who refused to crucify back, and thus stopped the inevitable pattern of death.

Jesus speaks these eternal words from the cross: “My people, I am yourself. I am your beauty. I am your goodness which you are destroying. I am what you do to what you should love. I am what you’re afraid of, your deepest and your best and most naked self. You are afraid of the good. You are afraid of me. You kill what you should love. You hate and fear the very thing that could and will transform you. I am Jesus crucified. I am you. And I am all of human history.” Yes, the Jesus story is the universe story!

What is your response to this Cosmic Christ?

Adapted from Richard Rohr,
Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety

You could say that among the most powerful of human experiences is to give or to receive forgiveness. Much of Jesus’ teaching is directly or indirectly about this mystery of forgiveness, God breaking God’s own rules. That’s not surprising, because forgiveness is probably the only human action that reveals three goodnesses simultaneously! When we forgive, we choose the goodness of the other over their faults; we experience God’s goodness flowing through ourselves; and we experience our own goodness in a way that almost surprises us. This is an awesome coming together of one flow of power, both human and divine at the same time.

If you don’t get forgiveness, you’re missing the whole mystery of God. You are still living in a world of meritocracy, of quid-pro-quo thinking, a world of performance and behavior at which none of us succeed, if we are honest. Forgiveness is the great thawing of all logic, reason, and worthiness, and the primary way we move from the economy of merit to the economy of grace. Forgiveness is a collapsing into the mystery of God as totally unearned love, unmerited grace. It is the final surrender to the humility and power of a Divine Love and a Divine Lover.

Adapted from Richard Rohr,
Hope Against Darkness: The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety

To live [in cooperation with God] is to live inside of an unexplainable hope, because your life will now feel much larger than your own. In fact, it is not just your own life, and yet, paradoxically, you are more “you” than ever before! I hope you have experienced that, if just for a moment. It also happens when you are deeply in love with anybody or anything. I am sure you have experienced it, if just for a few minutes.

This is the constant and consistent experience of the mystics—their vision that can also be your own. “God, you were here all along, and I never knew it” (Genesis 28:16), they always seem to say, but after the fact.

From Richard Rohr,
The Naked Now: Learning to See How the Mystics See