The human condition is full of contradictions: our world is marked by great progress and great suffering, by wonderful opportunities and sad failures, by amazing discoveries and unexpected tragedies, by deep sorrows and profound joys.
Each soul is a reflection, in one way or another, of these contradictions that mark the human condition, as though each individual represents a unique microcosm of the world at large. Each soul knows the meaning of hope and fear, joy and sorrow.
We all share in this common ’thread’ that runs throughout human history, this clash of contradictories, while each individual is a unique expression of the same. This is one of the greatest of all paradoxes: we are all the same yet each one of us is different.
And one of the greatest of all consolations is that the Son of God is no stranger to the human condition.
Jesus entered into this world as a human being and became acquainted with the human condition. The only begotten Son of God, who is in eternity, descended from heaven, was clothed in human nature, and entered upon the stage of the human drama.
The Son of God became the Son of man. He took upon Himself our own nature. Jesus immersed Himself in all the joys and sorrows, all the hopes and fears of the human condition, so that He could identify with each one of us. He united His divinity with our humanity, and our humanity with His divinity. He immersed Himself in all our pain, suffering, and death so that we could come to know His peace and life: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Let us not imagine that Jesus does not understand all the difficulties and struggles, the anguish, pain and suffering that we experience:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
To the extent that we come to know the Lord, to that extent we come to share in His life and peace. Conversely, to the extent that we “hide” ourselves from the Lord, to that extent we “hide” ourselves from His loving support.
And how do we “hide” ourselves from the Lord? When we fail to believe the words He has spoken; when we fail to trust or to confide our thoughts and concerns to His Sacred Heart; when we turn away from His will and follow our own will.
Saint Augustine confessed to the Lord: “When I hide my thoughts from you, I do not hide myself from you, but I hide you from myself.” (The Confessions of St Augustine, paraphrased)
If, on the other hand, we immerse ourselves in Jesus, if we trust in Him instead of trusting in our own understanding, then He carries us and all our difficulties on the wings of His own strength and wisdom. All the Lord really wants is to save us: “Come to me all you who labour and are burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
This is the Good News: that the Son of God came to share in our human condition so that He can be present to us in the midst of our struggles and suffering; that we can confront them in the strength of the Lord’s virtue, if only we will believe in Him; that He did not leave us to cope on the strength of our own resources; that He has already carried all the burden of our sins and sorrows and negligence, if only we will seek Him.
This is the Good News: that the Son of God has immersed Himself in all the misery and suffering and death that belongs to the human condition in order that we may receive His life and peace.
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9)
But how do we immerse ourselves in the Lord? Let’s allow the Lord Jesus to speak for Himself, and take His words to heart:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15: 4-11)
Leba Sleiman Copyright June 2019