Friday, May 18, 2007

Healing Tears

Today's gospel reading speaks eloquently about one indispensable preparation for receiving the Holy Spirit: a feeling of need and inadequacy. These drive us to tears, and thence to God. We are not alone in our tears. God is with us. so are others.

Jn 16,20-23.

Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish.

But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.

It may seem harsh to say so, but tears and heartache are part of the Christian life. However, they are never ends in themselves, nor are they our personal property. They are merely a portal through which we enter into sharing the Lord's eternal portion of suffering on behalf of the world. That sharing IS the gift of God's Spirit, poured out in our hearts and in our world.

Michael Casey states it well in Toward God: The Ancient Wisdom of Western Prayer.

"A strange thing takes place in prayer. There is a mysterious coupling of our own life with the lives of others- an embrace that includes the whole of humanity. At first, prayer stems from a sense of personal neediness. We never quite escape this feeling, but in penetrating deeper into our indigence we become aware that this need for God is not private property.

We are not alone in being without resources: the whole human race cries out to God for redemption. Prayer progressively becomes less a self-centered plea for personal deliverance than a unviersal cry for help - and for the coming of God's kingdom. the weakness and weariness of all are made personal in me; I come to experience them as my own. And when, from the depths of need or grief I turn to God, prayer arises on behlaf of all."


LJ said...

Ah! Michael Casey... what he says is not only well put, but it seems rooted in experience. "Toward God" is my favorite book on prayer.

Phil B. said...

Thanks. I'm still reading/ digesting it.... next up on my list is AN UNEXCITING LIFE: REFLECTIONS ON BENEDICTINE SPIRITUALITY. The brothers at Spring Bank were starting it for table lectio when I was there recently. It will be several months yet before I start, but I like to read Casey slowly and thoroughly.