Confessions of a She-Geek

July 29, 2013

More Human Than Human

Filed under: Faith and Religion — Teresa @ 10:47 pm
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For the past several months I’ve been part of the small group that’s studying The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by Herself. More than an autobiography, this book is a reflection on the nature of prayer and what it really means to pray.

In chapter 22, Teresa muses on how scholars often advise ignoring Christ’s humanity and focusing only on his divinity when striving to deepen a connection to the Divine One. To her way of thinking, that’s fine if one has developed enough spiritually – but most people won’t ever reach that point. Teresa maintains that, for most people, spiritual growth must be rooted in Christ’s humanity because that’s what we can relate to and identify with. From there, one may develop to the point where the focus can shift to his divinity, but first the connection must be made.

As I pondered this, reflecting on Christ′s experience as a human being, what came to mind was how profoundly unfair it all was. Then I flashed on the Grandfather′s statement in The Princess Bride: ″Well, who said life was fair? Where is that written? Life isn′t always fair.″

It certainly wasn’t for Jesus Christ. He was punished for things other people did. He followed the rules and did his duty, and his reward for a job well done was humiliation, mockery, torture, and death. Now, I remember how bad it felt to be blamed for something one of my siblings did, when my punishment was being sent to my room. It′s hard to wrap my head around how much worse it was for him.

He must have known how terribly he′d hurt – the agony he′d be subjected to. No doubt Christ knew that ultimately he′d be fine (being divine and all), but that doesn′t negate his human suffering any more than making a full recovery from a catastrophic injury negates the pain of the recovery process. Jesus knew his future would be filled with pain – did he dread it? Anticipation of pain is its own special form of torture. For 33 years, he lived with the knowledge that his last hours would be a horrific ordeal. How was he able to deal with this foreknowledge and live his life without retreating into isolation and bitterness?

Was he ever angry about it? Did part of him resent his lot in life, but recognize it as an unpleasant necessity? Did he sink into depression, knowing that during his darkest time his friends would distance themselves and no comfort would be found? Was he heartbroken by his abandonment? When he looked down from the cross, exhausted, and saw his mother weeping at his feet, did he feel sorrow over her distress? Doesn’t get much more human than that.

Here’s my point: he gets it. He was a human being, with all that entails. He understands walking through dust. Feeling the sun beating down on your head. Being hungry, thirsty, and tired. He′s felt the betrayal of a dear friend. He laughed. He cried. He hugged and loved and had family and friends and through it all, he was wonderfully, undeniably human. Put simply, God knows the human experience firsthand.

Teresa explains that this shared experience makes it possible for us to connect to God in an authentic way, bonding over what we have in common. She describes it as a friendship; saying that ″when we are busy, or suffering persecutions or trials… Christ is our very good friend. We look at Him as a man, we see Him weak and in trouble, and He is our companion.″

I find this comforting, because it means that we have never been, and never will be, alone. Someone is there, and knows what you′re going through, and will not leave your side, no matter what. Sounds like the kind of friend we all could use.

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