Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Advent 2022 Day 25


It is often said, of warring humanity, that ‘we have more in common than that which divides us,’ and we should focus on what we share, to overcome animosity. Our human alike-ness. But this might get it precisely wrong. So often, it is that which we cannot love about ourselves, seen reflected in the mirror of our neighbour, that causes us to reject them. It is where we share the most common ground that we find the Other most unlovable, for they remind us of ourselves. How dare they reveal, in themselves, the very thing I most try to hide in me? And then, we live in days when the inability to love ourselves is epidemic. When the insatiable desire to be, always, other than we are is celebrated; the right to annul ourselves, fought for. Free speech, freedom of expression, both ciphers for violence. How easily taking care of our soul transforms into a cell. How easily taking care of our body turns to a regime.

To love oneself, of course, is not at all the same as believing oneself to be the ideal specimen. That is simply another form of annulling who we truly are. To love oneself is to receive the gift of life in awe and wonder, with daily gratitude; and to meet that about us that causes shame or pain with wise compassion. You are a soul, that has a body, a body that changes over time, a soul shaped by the contingencies of your history meets the divine grace that heals all wounds, that will draw all experience into harmony.

Before ever he receives the wounds of crucifixion Christ takes up into glory in his resurrection body, he has received so many scars: beginning with the navel, and then his circumcision; a history of childhood falls; the record-keeping of an apprenticeship in carpentry. A baby, child, man, stretching limbs, that knot in the shoulder blade from repetitive action, his mother’s eyes. The sky torn open at his baptism, and his Father’s voice, from heaven. Jesus is good news not because his being fully human is greater than his being fully God—more in common with us than that which divides—but because he embodies how to love the Lord our God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength; and love your neighbour as yourself. Because love draws all experience—that which we have painfully in common—into harmony.

Today, may you nurture love, in every place it may be found, and most of all, where it is needed most.


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