Fr. Richard Rohr

It has been said that religion is largely filled with people who are afraid of hell, and spirituality is for people who have gone through hell. As all initiation rites say in one way or another: you have to die before you die, and then you know. Jesus is always on the side of the crucified ones. Jesus is what mythology called a “shape-shifter.” He changes sides in the twinkling of an eye to go wherever the pain is. He is not loyal to one religion, to this or that group, or to the worthy; Jesus is loyal to suffering! 

Do you realize that takes away all of our usual group-think? Jesus is just as loyal to the suffering of Iraqi and Russian soldiers as he is to the suffering of American and British soldiers. He grabs all our boundaries away from us, and suddenly we are forced to see that we are a universal people. Most people do not like being that exposed and that shared. Yes, God is on the side of the pain, and goes wherever the pain is (which is abundantly clear in the Gospels). We can no longer preempt Jesus for our own group, religion, or country. People seeking power cannot use him for their private purposes. He belongs to the powerless.  

 A lawyer who joined the Catholic Church and then became a Franciscan said to me one day, “You know, this Church is harder and harder for me to understand. We claim to have the perfect medicine, the healing power to restore and renew hearts and souls, but we seem to say in the same breath, ‘But make sure you don’t really need it! Because if you really need it, you are a less than ideal member!'”  

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