We have nearly concluded our Lenten season of self examination and fasting—made more conspicuous, this year, by the sacrifices made enduring the distance imposed by pandemic. We have sought hope in the Psalms of Ascent, the songs, from Psalms 120-134, that comforted our faithful forbears as they returned from exile to their beloved home of Jerusalem, up to Mount Zion.
We know that the Hebrew Pilgrims reached Mt. Zion. Their long trek away from captivity was over. They were home! Psalm 133, The Blessedness of Unity, describes the pilgrim’s song of idyllic unity and harmony.
1 How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore.
Once they got home, we know from the Old Testament that this people’s troubles didn’t magically disappear forever, despite their strife and steadfastness all that time. After all, they did not sing the Lord’s blessing of freedom from trouble forevermore, but a blessing of life forevermore.
How do our journeys succeed in demonstrating God’s eternal life of love?
In Mysteries of Faith, author Mark McIntosh, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Chicago, writes that [the French philosopher] “Simone Weil believed that what we see happening in Christ on the cross is the stretching out of God to us in our affliction and separation from hope. There, in Jesus’ cry of dereliction, we see the Word of God finding us, sharing our plight, crying out to the Father. Our lostness and distance from each other and from God has been embraced within the ‘distance’ of God’s eternal life of love, embraced within the love of the Father for the Son and the love of the Son for the Father, that one love—the bond of supreme union as Weil puts it—whom we know as God the Holy Spirit. The master of the Trinity is the deepest response Christianity can make to the problems of suffering and evil in our world.”
Through Christ, our lostness and distance from each other and from God has been embraced—unified—within the ‘distance’ of God’s eternal life of love. May we, too, live eternal lives of love forevermore, no matter the circumstances.
Narrative and photograph of the cross at Shrine Mont © 2021 Stephanie Shareck Werner
Mysteries of Faith, by Mark McIntosh. © 2000 Cowley Publications; pp. 38-39.