Mutual gift and mutual acceptance,
ever flowing from heart to heart, and back,
passing through the body as a vessel, and enfolding it,
one flesh, on body, one family in a single embrace,
abiding through time in covenant-fidelity
and the love that reaches out to endure, even beyond death.
This is our heart’s longing, dear Father,
yet precisely that which is most broken
in this sinful and estranged world of ours.
How can you restore what we have broken,
gathering together these scattered pieces,
something we cannot ourselves do
however hard we may try?
Living in this world, bumping shoulders,
yet only occasionally tasting a deeper love,
we yearn for more, and seek it,
yet so often in partial and obscure ways.
But you enter into our lives, our history,
engaging us in dialogue, a beautiful, loving exchange,
teaching us anew to trust, to love,
to open to a deeper mystery alive within,
yet penetrating from without, Love divine,
a torrential Ocean, like a river flowing into our world.
Jesus Christ, the beloved Son always dwelling,
in perfect childhood, upon your loving breast,
comes to us without leaving you,
and rests upon a woman’s breast,
drinking of her milk, her love, her smile.
He gazes out with Child’s eyes as an infant,
but, yes, also as a young man, growing,
and as a fully grown man, mature,
rejoicing in the world you have made, and given,
seeing beyond its brokenness, the darkness of fragmentation.
And seeing thus, he loves, taking it all back again
into the welcoming embrace of his Heart,
so as to carry it, anew, Father, back to you.
He is a Magnet in this world of isolation.
Our hearts, inverted upon self in fear and compensating pride,
push others away, creating a gaping space within…
a space that yearns for intimacy, yet this precisely fears.
But he comes and dwells among us,
polarized, Father, wholly unto you,
and in this way draws to himself all of us,
redirecting us in the right direction,
the one for which we yearn.
Ah, what a beautiful mystery,
transcending all expressing words!
Beloved Son dwelling among wayward children,
teaching them again what it means to be a child…
Bridegroom, aflame with ardent love,
seeking out his unfaithful Bride,
to wash her in pure water, cleansing her,
and preparing her for marriage’s consummation…
Image of your fatherhood, my God,
transparent through pure sonship, to you,
radiating out into our world this light,
and enfolding us within, to draw us back,
so that, at last, in your light we may dwell.
As his life draws to its ending, Father,
your beloved Son enters the city of your covenant,
there, your covenant to bring to its consummation.
All through his life he has dwelt among us,
loving with the love that we, in the beginning, lost.
He has walked in nakedness and transparency,
reaching out through even the tassel of his cloak
to heal the hearts that flock to him, trusting.
He has taken us unto himself, welcoming,
with the loving acceptance that was given to us,
yet which we failed to truly accept.
And he has given himself to us tirelessly,
flowing from restful reception of your gift,
awakening in us, again, both acceptance and gift,
though still so immature, burdened by fear and sin.
This fear, this sin, this brokenness, Father,
he also receives and welcomes unto himself,
but only because it is joined to us, enslaving.
He accepts us, and thus all that we, also, bear,
receiving it into his tender Heart and virgin flesh.
Sitting down at the supper table with his friends,
who are becoming, also, his Bride,
he opens now in the deepest possible way
this Body to receive us into itself,
and this Blood to mingle with our own,
pouring himself out completely,
broken and given, and yet whole,
to enter into all that we are, abiding.
This is my Body. This is my Blood.
What ineffable exchange, what marriage-bond,
what gift and consecration here!
Yet his Bride is still slumbering, unalert,
incognizant of this wondrous gift.
But the deepest truth lies in him,
shared out, and drawing back, in this way,
into the unity for which we were made.
The mystery of Eucharist, perfect gift and intimacy,
this is the inner reality, realized in sacramental truth,
that will be expressed outwardly in sacrificial love:
in anguish, scourges, thorns, and nails,
in loneliness and pain, embraced in embracing us
…so as to liberate us and bring us home again.
Supper’s intimacy gives way to garden isolation.
He invites us, indeed, Father, to be there with him,
but we are still so sleepy, in the night of sin.
He drinks a cup of communion, sacramental life,
and then proceeds to accept the final cup from your loving hands.
This cup too, is one of intimacy and communion,
yet wrought in the most solitary and isolated place.
He has to drink precisely here, in suffering and pain,
in the darkness of our experience of abandonment in sin,
so that here, in the most lonely of all places,
we may find the embracing arms of God.
Anguish at the prospect of suffering,
but so much more than this,
at the reality of estrangement from God,
the bitterness of isolation experienced by the sinful heart,
the dark night through which we walk, each of us,
in our most difficult times, grasping for God
whom it feels has forgotten us
and left us alone, groping in the dark.
In such situations the human heart often recoils,
turning back in upon itself in fear,
in shame or doubt, despair and hatred of self and life
…and yet, my Jesus, this is not what you do.
Encountering the very burden of sin
that keeps us estranged from true childhood,
the sin which is our turning away…
you take this, lovingly, upon your shoulders,
a crushing weight, but by which you are not crushed,
but which you break asunder by your own love,
by the filial trust and childlike simplicity,
radiant eyes and burning Heart,
penetrating through all things: to see the Father,
and, from within the Father’s sheltering arms,
to embrace all things, redeeming, saving.
Ah yes…like Adam and Eve in the beginning,
in the garden of Eden, naked and pure,
you enter, in your purity and vulnerability,
into the garden of our sin,
there to renew it from within,
making it again the garden of intimacy and love.
This mystery here alive in Gethsemane,
Father, is so often deeply misunderstood.
We interpret it from our own brokenness,
from our own fractured image of your fatherhood,
the result of our sin and fear.
But what you seek to teach us here,
and through the whole Paschal Mystery of your Son,
is the rediscovery of your fatherhood
and of the truth of childhood before you.
The pain that the Son here endures
we think means that your paternal will is “harsh,”
that he must submit himself in resignation
to a painful and bitter fate,
as if this were some kind of game
in which you, Father, hide your face,
and leave the Son to suffer in desolation.
But this is not what here occurs, my God.
The darkness of the garden’s anguish
and the abandonment of the Cross
is not the result, Father, of your withdrawal,
but of the taking up of our sin and our pain
in order to be penetrated and transformed,
from within, by your paternal light
and by the filial trust of your beloved Son.
The union between your Son and you, Father,
is the reality which endures in and through all things,
and alone gives meaning to everything else,
giving each moment of the Passion its value:
the Light of Love shining in our darkest place,
illuminating us from inside.
Yes, it is the loving Shepherd
seeking out his lost sheep in wayward ways,
and even more, the Bridegroom
bringing his adulterous Bride back home.
As we turn away towards the darkness,
collapsing in through fear and shame
into isolation in bitter pain and regret,
estrangement from the Father’s Heart in sin,
you descend down here to meet us, Christ,
so that, as we are turned away from God,
fleeing, we find ourselves fleeing…
into the welcoming arms of God.