There was a reflection by Abbot Jerome Kodell, O.S.B., of of New Subiaco Abbey, I had read several weeks ago. The thought that Abbot Jerome walks us through is our ongoing journey through the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He begins with a story of his own experience, as a young monk, meeting a participant of a peace group back in the 1960s. The man spoke of the violence he had endured. The individual shared how he used to fight back when he was attacked, which only seemed to make the violence worse. But when he remained passive, allowing the anger to be absorbed by his body, the violence lessened.
That is sort of the key of the idea of non-violent protest but also the scriptural challenge to turn the other cheek. Anger and violence only leads to more anger and violence. When we can approach a situation in peace, we can and do defuse potentially hostile and aggressive situations. Scripture again reminds us of the prophetic words, "Like a lamb he was led to the slaughter."
St. Paul helps us understand that through Baptism and Confirmation, we are initiated into the Passion, Dying, and Rising of Jesus Christ. Even Paul understands though that such participation takes a while to realize and actualize. Like the man in Kodell's experience, even someone who is doing good, can come to realize a new depth of their spiritual life when the PDR (passion, death, and resurrection) of Jesus becomes very real. Moving from a theory to a lived response, is the beginning of a conversion process here.
I will often reflect that the reasons I am a priest today are not the reasons I became a priest many years ago. I talk to engaged couples about this necessity of accepting the cross into their lives so as to experience the resurrection. I do not know how many really listen. When I play checkers on the Internet, sometimes when an opponent is losing, suddenly they leave the game. This is sort of telltale of our society today. Losing, hurting, suffering, distress, and anguish, are seen as such abysmal experiences, that we refuse to encounter them.
Not going to the cross does not allow us to grow into the mystery of Jesus. Jesus remains that pretty picture on the wall or the carved statue at the front of the Church. But it never touches my life or challenges me to be different.
Some of the priests I know talk about how they sometimes cringe when there is that phone call late in the evening, or after a Sunday morning of masses one person hangs back to talk. But the pause is brief. The gift of being able to minister, console, offer the sacraments, is more powerful than fatigue or hunger. Dads and Moms share in that gift when they are present to one another, and their children, after a day at work or the hectic schedules of the moment. Dying to our self allows us to embrace the body of Christ more closely.