Richard Rohr shares a prayerful meditation with the crucified Jesus as a way of healing our violence:
Picture yourself before the crucified Jesus; recognize that he became what you fear: nakedness, exposure, vulnerability, and failure. He became sin to free you from sin (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). He became what we do to one another in order to free us from the lie of punishing and scapegoating each other. He became the crucified so we would stop crucifying. He refused to transmit his pain onto others.
Richard invites us to receive these words as Jesus’ invitation to us from the cross:
My beloved, I am your self. I am your beauty. I am your goodness, which you are destroying. I am what you do to what you should love. I am what you are afraid of: your deepest and best and most naked self—your soul. Your sin largely consists in what you do to harm goodness—your own and others’. You are afraid of the good; you are afraid of me. You kill what you should love; you hate what could transform you. I am Jesus crucified. I am yourself, and I am all of humanity.
We then respond to Jesus, hanging on the cross at the center of human history, turning history around. Richard prays:
Jesus, Crucified, you are my life and you are also my death. You are my beauty, you are my possibility, and you are my full self. You are everything I want, and you are everything I am afraid of. You are everything I desire, and you are everything I deny. You are my outrageously ignored and neglected soul.
Jesus, your love is what I most fear. I can’t let anybody love me for nothing. Intimacy with you or anyone terrifies me.
I am beginning to see that I, in my own body, am an image of what is happening everywhere, and I want it to stop today. I want to stop the violence toward myself, toward the world, toward you. I don’t need to ever again create any victim, even in my mind.
You alone, Jesus, refused to be crucifier, even at the cost of being crucified. You never asked for sympathy. You never played the victim or asked for vengeance. You breathed forgiveness.
We humans mistrust, murder, attack. Now I see that it is not you that humanity hates. We hate ourselves, but we mistakenly kill you. I must stop crucifying your blessed flesh on this earth and in my brothers and sisters.
Now I see that you live in me and I live in you. You are inviting me out of this endless cycle of illusion and violence. You are Jesus crucified. You are saving me. In your perfect love, you have chosen to enter into union with me, and I am slowly learning to trust that this could be true.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Jesus: Forgiving Victim, Transforming Savior,” On Transformation: Collected Talks, vol. 1 (Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1997), Audible audio ed.
Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Izzy Spitz, Tuesday Chemistry (detail), digital oil pastel. Izzy Spitz, Field Study 1 (detail), oil pastel on canvas. Taylor Wilson, Field of the Saints, print. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.
How can we move outside our constricting and restricting patterns of violence? We need each other. We need all the colors.
Story from Our Community:
I’ve been contemplating Cynthia Bourgeault’s reflection on how constrained circumstances can open up an exquisite dimension of love. While walking with my wife’s dementia, an exquisite window of grace and healing has opened to us. We have found joy in our daily visits to Dairy Queen. We’ve gone over 218 days in a row! We know the servers by name, and they already know what we want. On the way there and back, we play music from the 1960s (we were married in 1971). As we both sing along in our daily ritual, her voice and memory become wondrously clear. When James Brown sings: “I feel good—cause I got you!” she points at me, and I at her. We are connected as never before. Exquisite. Thank you, Gracious Spirit.