Monday, January 9, 2012
DOES GOD SUFFER, PART II
Last week I wondered whether God waits with us; in essence, whether God suffers, too. I thought the answer (for a Catholic) was self-evidently yes, but not at all, and a lively conversation ensued.
Mystery does not mean chaos. Mystery does not mean vagueness. Mystery is never careless of reason. But the movement in mystery is always toward more warmth, not more coldness; toward the Trinitarian incarnate God of the New Testament and away from the distant, capricious God of the Old Testament; toward the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law; toward the heart, not the brain.
Those who think God doesn't suffer seem to believe suffering would somehow minimize God. To me, suffering would enlarge him.
I am a firm believer that if you have to be a scholar to understand the significance of Christ, then he is not Christ. As interesting and useful as it is to tease out the theological underpinnings of the Way, the Truth and the Life, they have got to be available to a simple illiterate fisherman every bit as much as they are available to the philosopher and the theologian. And if the plain meaning of the Word becoming flesh is that he did not suffer with us in some way that is intelligible to us, that can touch, enter into and transform our hearts, then the Crucifixion and Resurrection are meaningless.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit" because the poor in spirit have run out of ideas, not because they have sharpened their ideas to the point where they can give an intelligent exegesis of God. The poor in spirit are crying out in anguish, “Help!” The poor in spirit realize, “I can’t bear this burden any longer.” The poor in spirit quake with the dread knowledge that they have been cast out, or cast themselves out of their place at the human table.
If God doesn't suffer, He can’t rejoice. And that is a God, I, for one, really could not and would not want to believe in.
Were not our hearts burning within us [Luke 24:32]? If our hearts aren’t burning within us, if we’re not on fire with love, how can we possibly hope to understand the heart of the Father who sent us Christ?