Reading – Hebrews 12:1-3
Jesus is “the leader and perfecter of faith.” How so? Jesus showed us what faith truly is, a committed relationship with God, an acceptance of God as ultimate mystery and destination yet intimate being and love, a life of loving action in service and as a conduit of God’s transformative love into the world, a joy in all of God’s creation, a life of full humanity (not to mention full divinity, but that’s for another reflection). Jesus comes to us, takes us by the hand, and shows us both the way and the destination. He unswervingly followed God’s love and suffered immensely for doing so, but, through the very love he served, he overcame and transformed it from within into something glorious.
Why did Jesus despise the “shame” of the cross, then? I think that Jesus showed us through his life, death, and resurrection that God despises the ridicule and ignominy we attach to vulnerability, to dependence, to agape.
“You’ll just be a doormat,” the world tells us when we try to imitate the kenotic love of Jesus, of God. “People will just walk all over you.” Jesus provides the response to these assertions.
“Then let me be a doormat!
“Let people use and abuse me, look down on me, put all their filth and dirt on me, despise me, and throw me away without an afterthought. If I am a doormat, I hope to help others rid themselves of any grime clinging to their soles. I hope to prepare them to enter into the house of God, to welcome them into the divine presence. If doing so entails my suffering and dying, so be it. For, in the end, I know that God will give us all new life and guide us into a joyful, everlasting communion with God’s very self, if we only allow God to do so.”
By following Jesus and being doormats, we also have the opportunity to kiss Christ’s feet and embrace his sandals, through our souls and through the soles of the beloved human persons treading upon us. We will put ourselves under others and within God, awaiting the day that we all despise the shame of the cross and finally as on people praise its paradoxical power and beauty.
On that day, I think, God will have worked in us to bring about that development, and God will then transform us and the entire universe into something radically beyond our imagination, our reality.
May I start at this moment and continue in every instance to follow you in self-emptying love, Lord. May I be a doormat.*
Graces: You know that elderly woman I mentioned in my last post? She sent me a Christmas card in the mail with a gift inside. The simple yet profound charity she possesses is flabbergasting and heartwarming. She and so many other people show Jesus to everyone with whom they come into contact.
*Just for clarification: Being a doormat does not mean ignoring or allowing the oppression or dehumanization of other people. One can certainly accept their own unjust suffering, but one should always oppose and work to end the suffering of others in the hope of working with God to create a world where no one at all suffers. Nor should one go out of one’s way to find suffering. The whole basis of redemptive suffering is that one doesn’t seek anguish or trials but rather embraces them with God’s grace when they come along in order to bring healing and transformation to the world. Following Jesus means standing up for the dignity of all people and confronting oppressors with the love of God to effect redemption, not condemnation.