Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
There it was again, that large, plain grey platform in the sanctuary. For weeks it seemed sister would tell us about "the mission" that was coming. We were to come and bring our parents for this most important event of the year. Finally the night would come. I couldn’t talk my parents into coming, but I could go if I wanted, and I did. I remember sitting in church waiting for the mission to begin, looking at the stage that now had a life-sized crucifix in the center. Finally the bells would ring alerting all to stand and out came this tall man dressed in the stark black habit of the Passionists. He wasn’t wearing vestments. He walked right up to the platform, then up the couple of stairs and when he reached the cross; he dramatically took off his cloak, throwing it on the ground and began preaching. He would go from loud to soft, and make all sorts of gestures, the most memorable one being his kneeling down facing the crucifix when he was finished preaching. He grabbed the crucifix and started praying, talking directly to Jesus hanging there. I had no idea what he was doing, but I knew that one day I wanted to be that preacher and to move people to tears and repentance.
While I never became that preacher, I still wonder, why this person who claimed to be God was so wounded. Do I have to be wounded to be like him? I know I’m wounded, but isn’t that an aberration? Then I hear Paul telling us today:
Brothers and sisters:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world. (Gal 6:14)
Paul seems to be claiming that he himself participates in Jesus’ woundedness. He doesn’t boast that he persecuted the most people of this new Jewish Sect or that he above all was the best interpreter of the law. No, all he wants to boast in is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. That cross he says crucified him to the world.
I wonder if it isn’t simply Jesus’ humanness. Yes, he was God, but he doesn’t glory in that. No, he glories in his humanness, that he was born, grew up like all humans having to learn how not to wet his pants, how to feed and clothe himself and eventually how to love and allow other to love him. Surely, all these things he did, but now he just wants to glory in the most humiliating act of his life, the cross.
It seems to me our job as people, is to become fully human. Our gift in Jesus and Paul is that they show us how, especially in our woundedness. Maybe today I can realize that childhood dream and preach this good news by just being the best human I can be in both my accomplishments and my woundedness.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.