Sister Doreen’s Reflections
Healing Words from the Cross:
“Indeed. I promise you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43)
From the Tree of the Cross Jesus spoke words of healing, seven important qualities we all need if we are to help complete God’s vision for humanity: in this second word spoken from the Cross for healing: LOVE UNCONDITIONAL
In this second word from the Cross, the scene between the thief and Jesus is a profoundly moving one where respect, loyalty, and love are exchanged in an intimacy that binds. Unconditional love, compassion and acceptance – we are standing on holy ground.
In answer to the cry “Remember me”, Jesus speaks the words “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Words of promise, of hope, of the unconditional offer of love and acceptance. These words speak the gospel invitation to intimacy which is communion with God and with one another. These words speak to challenge and to heal our value system: our sense of self-worth, the vision of our destiny and our possibilities. This healing word is offered in order to bring more life to humanity, richer life, deeper awareness, higher consciousness.
Value is too often measured by two criteria: appearance and performance. From the cross, Jesus speaks words that challenge and heal this never-ending, ever-repeating circle of despair and hopelessness. Our worth is built in! Our value is inborn! God’s love does not depend on what we do – we have value simply because we are. We don’t have to look nice or perform well – our value is inborn. God is an unconditional lover of all! And true love always wants fuller life for those we love.
Jesus offers friendship to the thief – and it is as if the thief moves from being the very scum of the earth to being accepted as a very special and graced person. God walks into our mess, and embraces us – today you are with me. All our cries of ‘please remember me’ are gathered up into this embrace: forever and forever, all the days of our life. What a gift, more that we can ask or imagine! God can understand our weakness and our offering and our pain. It is a friendship that has no strings attached except the strings of love; it is a friendship that doesn’t wait until we have proved ourselves.
Jesus speaks a word of promise to us: a promise of companionship and intimacy with God, born of God’s knowledge of our possibilities. God sees all of us, not misshapen as we are by our selfishness, but in terms of what we might become. Nothing is so real to God as our possibilities, our growth, our vitality, our creativity towards the fullness of life.
This word speaks tenderness – a softness that remains open to the impact of others – that cares: Remember me – Today you will be with me …. . These words are marked to give us a responsiveness to others, a preparedness to receive from others, an appreciation of others qualities, a willingness to feel the needs and demands of others. Human life is messy. It never fits a pattern perfectly. Tender caring copes with the stubborn messiness of life not by constant purging, not by ever harsher discipline, but by fostering growth in its tiniest manifestations.
Tender affection and compassionate social concern go together and enable acceptance of diversity in unity which is the heart of true community. Tenderness is open to change, able to integrate the contribution of others, and seeks a creative communion of opposites, not their separation. Into our differences, our different lifestyles, values, ideas – comes a healing leaf of tender affection and compassionate social concern and acceptance. Please remember me – today you will be with me.
We live in a hard world. People want to avoid getting hurt. They seek invulnerability by grasping after positions of power or by restricting their involvements. But domination and withdrawal result in a rigid unresponsiveness. To be truly human is to be vulnerable – to be able to cry out: remember me – and to hear the promise – the tender promise of companionship, community – today with me. The cost of a tender sensitivity is suffering. But without it there is no joy.
To this hidden longing that we have known in ourselves – like the snow drop trying to push its way through the harsh grip of winter snow – this second word speaks a word of promise. “You will be with me, today”. God knows what is truly in our hearts, and what is truly in the God’s own heart.
Probably no other word better summarizes the suffering of our time than the word ‘homelessness’. It reveals one of our deepest and most painful conditions, the condition of not having a sense of belonging, of not having a place where we can feel safe, cared for, protected, and loved. With these words you will be with me today, we are offered, the world is offered that intimate place where there is a sense of belonging. The home, the intimate place, that is held out for the healing of the world, the place of true belonging, is not a place made by human hands. It is fashioned for us by God, who came and pitched a tent among us, invites us in, and prepares a room for us in that home. And this second word challenges us to hold out to each other, for ourselves and for the world that same offer of belonging that we all need – and to work in our own way to help bring this about – so that everyone is enabled to accept the invitation, the place, the belonging.
When our deepest longing cries out – Lord remember me – when we hear that cry from our world today – an offer of a relationship of closeness and friendship offered in this second word from the Cross is an opportunity to share the knowledge that God loves all of us, is concerned with our happiness and takes pleasure in our triumphs, is deeply concerned and personally involved in our trials and sinfulness. It is a truth that can project us into the current of God’s own redeeming love, transforming and turning to gold all that essentialness of our true selves. This is the promise and the hope of this second word from the Cross – it is the foundation of Christian response to God.
Today, and day by day, this promise can come true for us. Remember me.And to those who enter deeply into their own hearts and find the intimate home where they encounter God, also come to the mysterious discovery that solidarity is the other side of intimacy. The home we find in our innermost being is as wide as the whole of humanity. And as prayer leads us into the house of God and God’s people, so action leads us back into the world to work there for reconciliation, unity and peace.
Remember me – Today you will be with me –a leaf for the healing of me, of humankind, and for the healing of the nations.
And I, how can I speak with Jesus the hope of promise for the healing of myself, of humankind and for the healing of the nations?