Friday, November 17, 2017

Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken: The Paradoxical Joy Of The Cross

Suffering and joy are not the same. When I tell you that I felt great joy right after the car hit me, it's not in spite of the suffering; it's not after the suffering, either. "In the midst of" is about right, if you will pardon the cliche. The suffering is its own thing. You can hurt and sorrow in it while being joyful. Why? Well, we've always heard that joy is deeper than a feeling; it's true. Joy is a habit, a permanent disposition of confidence in Christ's victory over death and Hell. Joy is living faith, weaponized. I've got to hand it to the Lord for the timing: shortly after Holy Mass on an Easter Friday.

I had half a thought on the ground there that this wasn't what I was planning today. Imagine that.

I was mostly annoyed that I wouldn't be using the free slider coupon I'd just gotten for adding $1 to my order, to feed hungry kids.

A trusted guide said to me, "After all this, you don't hate!" I understood what he meant, but I understood instantly that the poor lady in the car is only a bit player in the bigger story. Whoever she is, she probably feels terribly about it. Even if I were so inclined, I'm not likely to shout angry obscenities as my life-blood pours into the street. I'm more perturbed by an Andrew McCutchen double in the gap in a key divisional game than I was at this poor woman.

I think maybe I got a gift of the joy of the Beatific Vision, Christ's own joy in saving us. "The joy set before him." "I am filling up in my body what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ." Christ the Victor has this way of magnifying Himself. Think of it: Christ chose me to magnify Himself. Well, OK, then. "Lord, this sure seems like a poor choice of personnel!" I'd like to think he laughs at me, every time I say this.

If I could bottle this joy, and hand it to you, I would. If you ask for it, though, be prepared for the Cross. Maybe my heart was asking for this joy, in something beyond words. The Holy Spirit was interceding, beyond my ability to ask.

I went to Adoration the other day, and right after Confession, I was there before the tabernacle, and I told the Lord as the tears streamed down my face, "I'm so glad you let that car hit me!" It's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received. Because I know the love God has for all of us, at a level no dogmatic pronouncement could ever capture. The consolations, as always, recede. Normal life returns. But love like this leaves an imprint on your soul.

I wouldn't trade this whole experience for anything.

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