Okay, I’m loving The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander so much that I have to give you one more quote for this Advent season.
Only Our Lady has ever lived all the aspects of phases and moments of Christ completely.
In some He is newly born.
In some He is a child.
In some He is homeless.
In some He is ignored, unrecognized, mocked, betrayed.
In some He is hungry; in some He is naked; in some He is helpless…
He remains, being tempted in all those who are tempted: in those who are in mortal sin, He is in the tomb.
We should never come to a sinner without the reverence that we would take to the Holy Sepulchre.
Pilgrims have travelled on foot for years to kiss the Holy Sepulchre, which is empty. In sinners we can kneel at the tomb in which the dead Christ lies. (pp. 114-116)
Here, Houselander builds on the fundamental Christian teaching — so often ignored by Christians of the modern and postmodern eras — the Christ abides in us, each of us, all of us, and we abide in Christ. Out of her Catholic devotion to Mary, she asserts that only the Blessed Mother ever experienced the fullness of abiding in Christ. For the rest of us, our “inner encounter” with Christ will be partial, incomplete, and shaped by the unique circumstances of our individual lives.
Some of us relate to Christ with the spontanaiety of a child; others with the responsibility of a laborer.
Others may “crucify” Christ with our self-destructive or unloving behaviors; while for others Christ is “resurrecting” through a commitment to healing and newness of life.
Perhaps most radical of all: even those who are most utterly lost in addiction, sin, abuse, or hatred, still has Christ abiding in them. But in such cases, Christ lies in repose: “dead” because of how the person has chosen to be alienated from love.
It is a mistake to assume that God, that Christ, is absent from those who are sinners, whose lives are filled with hatred or willful violence. Christ is not absent from such persons; if he were, they would cease to exist. Rather, Christ lies in repose in such souls, “dead” because of their sin — but waiting, hopefully, for resurrection.
So when we encounter a person whose life is such a mess of hatred or active addiction or violence, we should not write them off as lost to God. Rather, as Houselander suggests, we should kneel before such a person, reverencing the dormant Christ that resides yet deep within them.
If we all could take this perspective to heart, how would it revolutionize our world?
Something to think about, this Advent season — and beyond.
Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to all who read this blog. Thank you for your support and your engagement with my words. I’ll be on vacation for the next week or so, so it may be January before I return to this blog (unless I get super-inspired in the meantime, which is always possible). Enjoy this Sacred season, and I look forward to connecting with you in the new year!
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