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Hope Against Darkness

HOPE WITHIN DARKNESS

What we call Original Sin in Genesis could perhaps better be called Original Shame, because the way that Adam and Eve describe themselves is that they feel naked. Then some of the first words of GOD to His newly created people are, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11). Next, in a lovely maternal image, GOD as seamstress sews leather garments for them (3:21). The first thing GOD does after creation itself is cover the shame of his new creatures. This must name something that is fundamental within any authentic experience of GOD.

We live not just in an age of anxiety, but also in an age of shame. I find very few people who do not feel inadequate, stupid, dirty, or unworthy. Guilt is about things we have done or not done, but our shame is about the primal emptiness of our very being, an ontological question. It is not resolved by changing behavior as much as by changing our very self-image, our alignment in the universe.

——– Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM; Hope Against Darkness:
The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety

HOPE WITHIN DARKNESS

Christians indeed have a strange image of GOD: a naked, bleeding man, dying on a cross. It’s not what you would think the image of GOD could be or should be. Is GOD eccentric here, or is it we who have not diagnosed the human situation correctly?

Jesus receives our hatred and does not return it. He suffers and does not make the other suffer. He does not first look at changing others, but pays the price of change within himself. He absorbs the mystery of human sin rather than passing it on. He does not use His suffering and death as power over others to punish them, but as power for others to transform them. He includes and forgives the sinner instead of hating him, which would only continue the pattern of hate. Amazing that people cannot see that!

It’s interesting that Jesus identifies forgiveness with breathing (John 20:22-23), the one thing that you have done constantly since you were born and will do until you die. He says GOD’s forgiveness is like breathing. Forgiveness is not apparently something GOD does; it is who GOD is. GOD can do no other.

——– Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM; Hope Against Darkness:
The Transforming Vision of Saint Francis in an Age of Anxiety