Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday: That Stubborn Love

This Holy Week I'm reading some homilies from a great Australian Jesuit, Peter Steele, whose poetry I've posted here a number of times.  Peter died last June; he had a great love of language and a wonderfully restless mind.

In a homily for the fifth Sunday of Lent in 2010, Peter wrote this:
I call Paul 'a romantic', which means here, 'an incurable yearner, a dreamer-for-action, a hankerer driven by hope.'....
Paul says [in the letter to the Philippians], 'All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death.' 'The pattern of his death' touches on the one hand on the vilenesses which Christ endured and many of which are produced, every day, even in our city. But 'the pattern of his death' also refers to that stubborn love with which he carried on his living until it became his dying.  Jesus was a yearner, a yearner for that authority and vindication of love without which his life would be totally unmemorable.

The best things we do in life all testify both to a sense of the world as wounded, and to a sense that we all hunger to do good, as well as to be good.  Paul at his best was a yearner: we at our best are yearners: and if that is no the final story about Christ the Lord, we have nothing to say about him, at all.  
During Holy Week the "vilenesses which Christ endured" can easily overwhelm my sense of anything else, even the Resurrection. Peter's words are a good reminder of the other side of things, the grace of Holy Thursday, that restless spirit of affection and welcome that Jesus has for us.


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