Crosses We Bear


By Fr. Michael Gillis

Freedom is one of the crosses we bear. This cross is particularly painful in relation to those whom we love the most. There is no love without freedom.We want the best for those we love. We do not want them to suffer. We do not want to see them suffer. And sometimes, we can no longer bear suffering with them. We want the suffering to stop, yet we see no end. We do not see how the confusion of the tongues--the pride of mankind resulting in our inability to communicate--how this too is part of God's saving love. We do not see how being crucified by those we love saves them.

In my opinion, the greatest tragedy of theology is that it reduces the Cross to a plan, a schema, a balanced and antiseptic explanation of how. The Cross cannot be explained; it can only be suffered, it can only be endured.

Just as Jesus could have called down legions of angels to avoid the cross, so we can set up defenses, legions of explanations, excuses, denials, reasons, theologies, plans, and hopes rooted in delusion, all to avoid the pain of love in freedom, all to keep from having to really let go, to let our hearts be crucified through the freedom we give those we love.

We do not believe the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We do not believe the Parable of the Lost Coin. We do not believe that the suffering of the shepherd in search of the lost sheep will be rewarded. We would rather not suffer so much. Its easier (and makes much more sense too) to keep our heart close to the ninety-nine. But love doesn't make sense. And so love suffers. And so love is crucified.

The enigma of the Prodigal Son is that the loving Father gave everything to his son so that the son could all but destroy himself by means of it. How is that love?

Ah, there I go again, asking for a how. There is no how. Love just is, and it suffers.

The enigma continues in the son coming to his senses. Suffering makes him remember what he had always known. And when he comes to his senses, the son knows that his Father will receive him again. He knows this because his Father has already given him freedom, real freedom--freedom to go and thus freedom to return. Hidden in the heart of the son is the knowledge of his Father's love, a love demonstrated to him in giving, in suffering, and in freedom, which is the cross.


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