Posted by: rosa alba | June 19, 2009

Embracing the lice (!!!)


This is our God, the SERVANT KING;
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to the SERVANT KING

Lines of course, if not based on, then summed up in the actions of Christ in John 13, when Christ washed the feet of the disciples and gave the commandment that we serve rather than be served; as Jesus served up the foretaste of Himself in the celebratory sacrifice of Last Supper, to be realised fully  in His selfless sacrifice the on the Cross,  He continues to offer His Very Self to us, in the Eucharist, with all the graces that confers on us (in uniting us with God and with each other in the Body of Christ that is the Church Militant).

Offering up the hardships of daily life may be a very Catholic act or form of prayer, and the concept of redemptive suffering alien, if not heretical, to more reform forms of Christianity. Yet Christ entrusts and charges us with being like Him being servants to those we meet, inasmuch as the symbolism of washing their feet is to serve (or if not servants, then hosts, itself a powerful concept in terms of connotations with  the Eucharist), and – following the washing of the feet –  Jesus says,

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command,”

Whilst we may not be able or called – all of us – to be Maximilian Kolbes who lay down our lives, offering up the greater and lesser hardships is something we can do, and Josemaria Escriva wrote of turning even our humdrum and bothersome daily activities – he might have said the pormenores – into prayer.

So we can and should offer up Self. A sense of Self in terms of place and time in God’s universe does not mean one is a doormat but a valued sentient being of the Creator, and created in His likeness, a creature of love; to be like God, but

“…the man who is God
Lord of Eternity, dwells in humanity,
Kneels in humility, washes our feet”.

To serve in love, and humility, knowing that while we are loved each and every one of us, grains of sand, sparrows’ feathers, as individuals..in being in God’s image however, it is not about us, but about what we can, to quote Kennedy, do. The Fruits of the Holy Spirit, as with the ein sefirot of Kabbalisitic thought of the Jewish Midrash period (I think), are certainly manifiestations through which we can experience God, in his workings in the world through others, and through us. Radiations of God we reflect out from us, but which need our humble compliance to shine, which compliance is the replacing of I with You.
Humility is then, though not a Fruit of the Spirit per se, intimately linked with charity. However, it would be disingenuous to pretend that we can, as humans, ignore our needs, for while Christ was Man, He was also God, and we are but humans. We can, however, reflect God through our words and actions, as we intend in our morning offering each day; we will, as Christ fell under the weight of His Cross, fall under the weights of our own Crosses most probably (in thoughts, words, deeds and by omissions). There is a humility in accepting both this (through our examinations of conscience) and the need for help from others to walk our own daily Via Crucis – from the Veronicas and Simons who come into our lives, in whatever manifestations and for whatever duration. There is humility in knowing our frailties, acknowledging them (apologising without justifying, if necessary) and receiving help. The sin of Pride (hubris), that which keeps us from accepting our humanity, from accepting charity and perhaps from accepting salvation is the flipside of humility. It is not just the self-righteous Holy Wullies though, that we would do well to avoid becoming, but adopting the misplaced sense of Self that would lead us to be isolationist islands, scorning of the help proffered by others, however small, and ungrateful of such help when we cant but accept it.
It is not just the recognition of the hand of God relfected in the hand that hands us a well timed facecloth, or asks with concern and a smile if everything is ok,  but a recognition of our own sweat needing wiped, of our own wounds needing salved and bound, our own flesh and blood humanity, and our own mortality (all too fragile). And it is about hands, whether or not one endorse hand holding during the Pater Noster, the symbolism of community, supporting one another, is both powerful and valid.

“Oh wad some power the giftie gie us
Tae see oursels as ithers see us” (To a Louse, Robert Burns).

We are all in need of seeing our louse-ness (which is particularly apt), our beetleness if we want to be more Kafkaesque.
In seeing our own needs and frailties, in finding the graces (and accepting help) to work through them and move on, we grow: “this too will pass”, as someone I admire greatly sustained me by saying through much of 2008. In accepting our own failings and frailties, our own:

“air cùil ghrod an Glaschu
far bheil an lobhadh fàis,
agus air seòmar an Dùn Èideann,
seòmar bochdainn ’s cràidh”

“foul-smelling backland in Glasgow,
where life rots as it grows;
and on a room in Edinburgh,
a room of poverty and pain,” (Calbharaigh, Sorley MacLean)

we can increasingly see need in others, and how that need manifests itself and plays out in flesh and blood terms, in terms of wounds no less deep and weeping for all they may not be visible or of the flesh. Our suffering, our acknowledging our suffering and embracing it, but also embracing the wherewithal to move through and on from that suffering (even if, like Christ we sweat blood, and fall more than twice, and need our own Cyrenian to help us bear the load) that suffering unites us to God the Son in His Passion, and we become more like Christ, with the understanding and grace to love others – like us and like Christ – in their suffering, moving from being Self-centred to God-centred.

Works may not alone save us, but works with and of compassion, empathy, and through faith bring us closer to God, in the Suffering Servant and progress our understanding of God.

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