Staying with Jesus

Julian stayed with the vision of Jesus on the cross, holding the tension between the terribleness and horror of what she could see at that moment, and the reality of Jesus’s words, knowing that since thereby God made the worst harm well (Adam’s sin) God could also make well everything that is less bad, as Jesus insisted to her could be done in the face of all her questions and doubts.

In our own time, in our own sufferings private and global, we need to stay with the reality of the tension between what is happening now, that crucifixion in Ukraine and elsewhere, and the promise that Jesus’s words contain. Not being indifferent to the distress, or treating it as a distraction, or denying our state of helplessness. Julian’s genius was also in holding the tension between what she called the Two Judgments: how both the lower, flawed human judgment of things and people and God’s own higher judgment of mercy and grace are to be reconciled and oned, and justice done, even though it seems from here that there can be no possibility of that.

If it is the case that we feel helpless and distressed, then our helpless distress itself is to be our offering as we stay with that tension of being in-between. We do that for ourselves, but also for those who are literally caught in-between, the Ukranian people and the Russian people.

As a way of staying with Jesus, we can pray the psalms and feel through the words of the psalms the fear, terror and pain of all those caught in the middle—those caught in crosshairs, between one doom and another, and those caught between the claims and directives of the state and of answering to the deeply moral human impulse. What we can gift to all these is our belief in their humanity, their need, the unimaginable straits in which circumstances have put them, and their hope of hope itself. This gift of believing and holding the pain of all our brothers and sisters in need is both deeply sacrificial and deeply simple, and is within reach of each one of us, whatever else we are called to do.

If we too stay with Jesus, we will bear Jesus to our world, and like Mary bear that cost. And yet as Gabriel said to Mary, we too are told, “Do not be afraid.”

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