The last shall be first

In weakness, failure, losing, confusion, poverty, stupidity, and oppression we are predisposed to opening to God in Christ through the Spirit because all these experiences are a share in the crucifixion.  This is the reversal Jesus proclaims in his parables of God’s reign.  The last shall be first.  The first are those whose lives are so together they do not see the need for God.  They do not realize where ultimate happiness lies.  They are under illusion and the only way to break them of this illusion is to actually break them open through participation in Christ’s passion and death on the cross.  But, the last are those already crushed, marginalized, and oppressed.  These last ones can be the poor of the third world, all who experience the evils of racism, women suffering from the evils of sexism, the depressed, the socially awkward, the disabled, prisoners, the elderly—the list goes on and on.  They are crucified—all of them.

As Richard Rohr says, We don’t go to God by doing it right; we go to God by doing it wrong.  It is only in experiences of losing and failure that we realize how utterly dependent, fragile, and weak we are.  It is those moments that are a potential sharing in the crucifixion of Christ.  Jesus tells us to rejoice in those moments because it is another opportunity for transformation.  And we don’t need to seek them out because life throws these curve balls at us all the time.  Suffocating boredom, intense loneliness, those moments when life simply falls apart—rejoice in these moments because it is in them that God frees us.  It is in these moments that we learn to fall into the mystery of God.  God is found in the most painful, sinful, uncomfortable, and negative experiences of life—that’s what the cross says!  And, we would never expect to find God there.  True life comes through death journeys wherein we realize who God is for us—the God of liberating, gratuitous, mysterious love.  And we die with Christ—we die with, through, and in God.

Imagine that all you hold dear in your life is taken from you.  What if you lost your home?  Your job?  Your plans for the future?  These are the circumstances of your life—they are NOT your life.  And sometimes it takes an experience of loss to help us realize that.  God calls us to fall through our life situation—our circumstances—into our LIFE: the ever-present mystery of God.  Jean Pierre de Caussade says, “rejoice every time you discover an imperfection because then you have to fall into the hands of the living God.

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