Chiara Lubich's Heroic Lesson of Love
"Nailed to the Cross, We Become Mothers and Fathers of Souls"
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ROME, MARCH 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a reprint of a Good Friday meditation for the Jubilee Year 2000, written by the founder of the Focolare movement, Chiara Lubich.
Lubich, 88, died Friday in her home at Rocca di Papa, a few miles from Rome. Her funeral was held today at St. Paul's Outside the Walls, and presided over by the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
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Good Friday: Jesus' death on the cross is his sublime, divine, heroic lesson on the meaning of love.
He had given everything: a life lived in obedience at Mary's side, amidst discomfort. Three years of preaching, revealing the truth, bearing witness to the Father, promising the Holy Spirit and working all kinds of miracles of love. Three hours on the cross, from which he forgave his executioners, opened heaven to the good thief, gave us his Mother, and finally, his body and blood, after having given them to us mystically in the Eucharist. Only his divinity remained.
His union with the Father -- that most sweet and ineffable union which had made him so powerful on earth as God's Son, and so majestic on the cross -- that awareness of God's presence had to withdraw into the deepest recesses of his soul and became imperceptible, separating him in some way from the One whom he had said was one with him: "The Father and I are one" (Jn. 10:30).
Within him love had been annihilated, light extinguished, wisdom silenced. Thus he made himself nothing, to make us partakers in the all that he is; a worm of the earth (Psalm 22:7), to make us children of God.
We were separated from the Father.
It was necessary that the Son, in whom we all are, should feel separated from the Father. He had to experience being forsaken by God, so that we might never be forsaken again. He had taught that no one has greater love than the one who gives his life for his friends.
He who is life itself was giving himself completely. It was the culmination of his love, love's most beautiful expression.
All the painful aspects of life conceal his face: They are nothing other than him.
Yes, because Jesus, crying out in his abandonment, is the image of those who are mute: He no longer knows how to speak.
He is the image of one who is blind -- he cannot see; of one who is deaf -- he cannot hear.
He is the weary person, moaning.
He is on the brink of desperation.
He is hungry ... for union with God.
He is the image of one who has been deceived, betrayed; he seems a failure.
He is fearful, timid, disoriented.
Jesus forsaken is darkness, melancholy, contrast. He is the image of all that is strange, indefinable, that has something monstrous about it. Because he is God crying out for help!
He is the lonely person, the derelict. He seems useless, an outcast, in shock.
Consequently we can recognize him in every suffering brother or sister.
When we approach those who resemble him, we can speak to them of Jesus forsaken.
To those who recognize that they are similar to him and are willing to share his fate, he becomes: for the mute, words; for the doubtful, the answer; for the blind, light; for the deaf, voice; for the weary, rest; for the desperate, hope; for the separated, unity; for the restless, peace.
With him the person is transformed and the non-meaning of suffering acquires meaning. He had cried out a "why?" to which no one replied, so that we would have the answer to every question.
The problem of human life is suffering. Whatever form it may take, however terrible it may be, we know that Jesus has taken it upon himself and -- as if by a divine alchemy -- he transforms suffering into love.
I can say from my own experience that as soon as we lovingly accept any suffering in order to be like him, and then continue to love by doing God's will, if the suffering is spiritual, it disappears; if it is physical, it becomes a light burden.
When our pure love comes in contact with suffering, it transforms it into love. In a certain sense, it divinizes the suffering. We could almost say that the divinization of suffering that Jesus brought about continues in us. And after each encounter in which we have loved Jesus forsaken, we find God in a new way, more face-to-face, with greater openness and fuller unity.
Light and joy return; and with the joy, that peace which is the fruit of the spirit.
This light, joy, and peace which blossoms from suffering that is loved, strikes people and moves even the most difficult persons. Nailed to the cross, we become mothers and fathers of souls. The effect is the greatest possible fruitfulness.
As Olivier Clément writes: "The abyss, opened for an instant by that cry, is filled with the great wind of the resurrection."
Every disunity is annulled, traumas and splits are healed, universal brotherhood is resplendent, miracles of resurrection abound, a new springtime begins for the Church and for humanity.