The past week has seen several prayer intentions circulating in the group. Loved ones passing away, people suffering losses. Not to mention our own challenges each day. We remember with deep sadness too the many victims of the recent attacks around the world. In all these, we might have found ourselves in moments of helplessness, stranded between hopefulness and hopelessness, consolation and dejection. And one might be tempted to ask a very reasonable question, “Where is God?”
While it is important to review the week’s incidents and experiences, to find God in them, today, I would like to suggest a turn of this question. In all these challenges, sufferings, pain, loss, where were you? In the sufferings and helplessness of your life, where were you?
I must admit that in my tough situations, I am usually on the run. It has become such a natural tendency that I subconsciously swing towards. Running away from all my difficult emotions, running away from the reality of what’s happening. I am everywhere else except at my heart, where my emotions reside and try hard to call out for my attention. As far as I can, for as long as possible. I distract myself with anything that will direct my attention away from the awful helplessness and heaviness within. Computer games are good distractors!
Unfortunately, avoiding the difficulties and unpleasant emotions do not make the issue at hand disappear. For over time, anger, frustration, resentment, etc accumulate and my peace diminishes by the minute. It is like plague building up in the arteries and we are almost certain that what follows will be a cardiac arrest. Sooner or later.
The good news is that there is a better way of be-ing. A be-ing that imitates Jesus and Mary. By His divine power, Jesus was not helpless in His passion and death. But He chose to be that way, like a lamb led to the slaughter. Experiencing excruciating pain – physical, emotional and even spiritual when He felt His Father abandoning Him. All Jesus did was to hang there on the cross to bring His Father’s will to total completion.
This image of hanging. It does not require us to be physically hanging on the cross. Rather, it suggests a certain resignation to the cross, no resistance but only an abandonment of oneself into the arms of the one who is truly in control. A hanging that seems like one is doing nothing but one is in fact totally present to every bit of the experience. Mary, as she followed her Son along the way and finally, witnessing the brutal death of her beloved Child on the cross, had her own heart pierced through. She stood there. She remained. Feeling very blow of His, every wound of His. She was completely present to her emotions. She was hanging with Jesus on the cross.
In our apostolate work, we face situations in which there seems to be nothing much we can do at all except to pray. Yet, there may be something more. To be with the helpless one suffering – whether it is another person or ourselves – to hang with this person and with Jesus on the cross. In total solidarity and connection. Because it is this connection that carves out the channel for love to flow. The love of Christ that renews and restores the face of the earth.
In difficult situations, where would you choose to be?