“God singled out the weak of this world to shame the strong. He chose the world’s lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who were something.”
–1 Corinthians 1:27-28
(My vow cross)
I am nothing.
Earth is one planet of nine in our solar system, one of thousands and thousands in the universe. Within this planet, I am one of seven or eight billion people.
The United States is one country among some two or three hundred. Chicago is one of thousands of cities. Even within this city, I am one of millions.
I am nothing.
Human history covers thousands of years. My life will last perhaps seventy or eighty–that is, if I am lucky. Today is one day of thousands that I have lived. This minute is one of hundreds of thousands.
And what of those who have less than I have? If I am nothing, then what are they? There are those who perish a few minutes after leaving the womb, and there are those who never take their first breath. There are those who live in trash heaps and those who drink poisoned water. There are children who suffer cancer, and there are innocent prisoners on death row. There are victims of abuse, divorces, murders, rapes, flood victims, car accidents. And what of those who have less than I have? If I am nothing, then what of them?
Nothing. Death. Pain. Injustice. Chaos. Where is God? Where is he? Why does he act as if he were not? Perhaps he is not!
So it would be if there were no Jesus. “I have come to preach Christ, and him crucified!” Crucified! Innocent! Tortured! Dead in the arms of his mother! The cry of St. Paul pierces the dense air from the torture chambers of Europe to the nuclear reactors of the USA, from the jails of North Korea to the marketplace bombs of Northern Africa. St. Paul’s message rips through the millions of galaxies and fills the farthest ends of the void of space. “I have come to preach Christ, and him crucified!”
“Folly! Ridicule! God is dead!” Yes, he is dead! And we have killed him! He hung from the wood of the cross in 33 C.E. We buried him. We sealed his tomb. We spit on his body. We cut deep into his festering lacerations. He died.
Love. Can it be without suffering? A person who has never suffered has never loved. Suffering is a blazing fire that purifies the heart until love is the only thing left. When love is the only thing left, it burns still, though without being consumed. All around it there is holy ground. Nakedness.
The poor, the lowly of this world. They love. I’ve seen it. They love more than anyone who drinks mojitos from the rooftop pools of skyscrapers. They love more than any philosopher who claims the absence of God because of their suffering. The poor…some cheat, some steal, some lie, but they get on their knees to pray before, during, and after. Love is poor, and it can’t be otherwise.
Holy week is coming. Christ, make us poor! Christ, make us love!