Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Lamentations – Poignant Grief and Unquenchable Hope
The seeming conflict between human weakness and divine power is one we humans constantly explore; we can never quite understand the inversion of logic that Jesus brings to the world much less put this inversion of thought into action ourselves. When we experience dreadful times we must turn to the truth that we are made whole in our emptiness, that sorrow always carries with it joy, and that God resides with those who are broken and forgotten. In our deepest grief transformation lies in the outrageous hope God offers us . . . in this hope beyond hope that the incredible promise of Christmas is indeed true. The Book of Lamentations may seem like as unusual point of reflection as we enter fully enter the Christmastide but we find something here today that speaks to our human circumstance. We discover that grief is always a subtle presence at any celebration . . . and that restoration accompanies all loss when we remain in the Spirit.
The five laments found in this book of the Bible “combine confession of sin, grief over the suffering and humiliation of Zion, submission to merited chastisement, and strong faith in the constancy of Yahweh’s love and power to restore. The union of poignant grief and unquenchable hope reflects the constant prophetic vision of the weakness of man and the strength of God’s love; it also shows how Israel’s faith in Yahweh could survive the shattering experience of national ruin”. (Senior 1017) The inversion the Christ Child brings to the world is the same conversion of the Old Testament Yahweh.
A few weeks ago we studied Psalm 90 and reflected on its truth. In this sacred poem we find our human limitations compared with God’s infinite goodness; we are told that God transforms even our most crushing suffering when we hand over our pain. It remains for us to act on this knowledge. It is for us to see the connection between the deep heartache of human distress and the nativity of inestimable hope in the person of Jesus. Why reflect on a centuries-old lament when we celebrate happiness? Because Christ represents the only true passage from the inconsolable grief we experience to the indescribable joy we say we seek.
Do we really want to be happy or do we sabotage our chance to know true delight? Each of us must make this journey to uncover our hidden plots against ourselves and others.
Do we honestly want to experience true gladness or do we dwell in the lamentation of our lives refusing to step into the joy fearing that the promise of Christ is yet another disappointment? Each of us must be willing to hand ourselves over to God and to give a full and candid accounting of our days.
Do we truly believe in the conversion of poignant grief through the transforming power of unquenchable hope? If so, and if we honestly wish to live in true Christmas joy promised by the Christ Child, we must plumb our own depths of lamentation and ask: What do we prefer, a life of frustration and illusion or a life filled with promise, trust, and joy?
It is for each of us to pause today. What is the true message of the Christ Child?
It is for each of us to decide today. Do we believe in the message of Jesus’ Nativity?
It is for each of us to act today. Are we prepared to carry God’s unquenchable Christmas hope into the world for the conversion of our most poignant grief?
Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1017. Print.
For a reflection on Psalm 90, go to: http://thenoontimes.com/2012/12/10/gods-eternity-our-fraility/