Our human hearts were made to love and to be loved, to give and receive love. Every beat of every heart is made possible through a God who is love. But do you know that the very heart of God also beats for you? That is what Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Apostle of the Heart of Jesus, as he revealed his enflamed heart to her: “Behold this Heart which has so loved men as to spare Itself nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, to testify to them Its love.” This revelation is what we have come to know as the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
When we give our lives for the sake of empowerment of the other, we embrace the paradox that is central to every paschal journey. This is not death pursued for its own sake, nor is it suffering for the sake of suffering. It is the daily cross we are all asked to undertake to rid our world of the meaningless suffering largely caused by the blindness that is unable to see the enduring paradox on which all life flourishes. Whether we engage the paradox on the grand cosmic scale or consider its application to our individual lives, the challenge is equally daunting. The first hurdle we need to negotiate is the persistent indoctrination of dualistic splitting, dividing life into the binary opposites of earth versus heaven, matter versus spirit, body versus soul. The illumination of truth does not belong to the clarity of the polar opposites but to the gray area in between, where, day in and day out, we work out the meaning of life.) This is where the real stuff happens. Here is where we encounter afresh our inherited patriarchal, dualistic, and imperialistic wisdom and face the disturbing truth that deeper meaning evolves elsewhere— in the restless, pulsating throes of an evolving universe ever inviting us to new horizons, ever risky, yet persistently creative!
Jesus belongs to a reality greater than his individual self and therefore would also include himself in the command that we should seek first the new companionship (Matthew 6:33). Jesus, therefore, may be viewed as the primordial disciple of this new empowering dispensation, with all humans called to be co-disciples—not for but with Jesus. As co-disciples we are called to be friends and not mere servants. And there are no privileged power positions in this new dispensation, wherein unconditional love is the primary driving force. Knowing that we are loved unconditionally, then we are called to serve all others—humans and nonhumans alike—with something of that same unconditional love with which we ourselves are loved. Finally, the word earthing reminds us unambiguously that it is in and with creation at large that we seek to foster and uphold the power of unconditional love.
The language of paradox is written all over creation. It is there for us to read and discern. When we do attend to it, it seems to make life more tolerable, more bearable; dare I suggest, more meaningful. When we fail to attend, we expose ourselves to forces that can be cruel and devastating. Apparently, we do have a choice. The big problem, however, is that the choice seems to lead in directions that are alien to our imperial Western consciousness, to our rational ways of perceiving and acting, to our prized sense of being in control of the contingent nature of the world we inhabit. To opt for the other choice feels like betraying or abandoning all we have worked so hard for, all that constitutes the very foundations of a civilized world.
Stability has never featured strongly in my life; the older I become the more I encounter daily challenges to integrate change and new perspectives. Observing the natural world we inhabit, the plant, the tree, and the animal never remain the same. Everything grows, unfolds into ever new ways of being. We can’t control such change; indeed, the only authentic response we can make is to learn to flow with it. In the change we experience around and within us, there is another inescapable dimension: decay, decline, and death. Such disintegration is not an evil, nor is it the consequence of sin stated in Romans 6:23, but it is a God-given dimension of all creation. Without the disintegration and death of the old there can be no true novelty. The ability to let go of that which previously sustained us is a perquisite for embracing the new that morphs into further growth and development.
We are birthed into life in the empowering grace of our creative God, and our collaborative responsibility with that God is to birth anew the nature that has birthed us. In this co-creative process, there is no room for patriarchal power or manipulation. It is our sense of belonging that defines our true nature and our God-given identity. That to which we belong defines the very essence of our adult selves. Therefore, God’s will for humans—and for all creation—is to exercise an agency of co-creation: to bring about on earth a greater fullness, the evolutionary complexity I described in chapter one. We are meant to be an engaged and involved species, adult people serving an adult God, in the ever-evolving enterprise of our magnificent universe. Seeking to escape to a life hereafter makes no evolutionary sense anymore; in fact, it never did for our ancient ancestors.