Our next blog series focuses on the grace we pray for in the second week of the Spiritual Exercises: to know, to love, and to follow Jesus. Today Charlotte Phillips shares with us how we can imitate Christ during difficult times.
A couple weeks ago I was in prayer with the Inner Chapel Community. Carrie Lambert was walking us through a Visio Divina with one of her father’s beautiful paintings. In the painting Escape from Eden, Rolland Golden shows us a couple, shoulder to shoulder, walking forward through the flooded streets after Hurricane Katrina. Surrounding the couple were destroyed houses and debris. Even with all the destruction, with all the physical and emotional brokenness surrounding them, I could see the love they had for each other. Carrie later told us this image was of a man and pregnant woman in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans, one of the areas hardest hit from the storm. While this painting wasn’t of an actual couple, there were so many people in this predicament-walking through the brokenness wondering how they would ever recover. The painting felt like the current state of our world.
Our world feels broken right now.
There is so much uncertainty and unknowns with COVID-19. For five months our lives have been in limbo. We have been quarantined and social distancing. People have lost jobs and lost loved ones. Celebrations of graduations, weddings, and birthdays have been celebrated alone or over a computer screen. Parents have been faced with the difficult decision of deciding to send their children back to school or to continue virtual learning. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
If dealing with this wasn’t enough, we have also experienced a radical reaction to the tragic killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others of our Black brothers and sisters. Emotions are high and more and more people are being hurt. I’ve read article after article of people of color being mistreated, hurt, and even killed because of the color of their skin. It makes my heart truly ache to know people are still being mistreated solely based on the color of their skin.
In the story of the raising of Lazarus in John’s gospel, we read:
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. (John 11:33-35)
Jesus, in his humanness, felt sorrow and deep compassion for those suffering just as we do.
Our world feels broken right now. I can still see love.
During our current pandemic we are making and donating masks to help stop the spread of this novel virus. We are donating money to organizations providing food to those in need. Front Porch Projects popped up in cities around the country offering free family photos to help lift spirits. Here in New Orleans, currently unemployed musicians are delivering food to our front-line workers, with donated money, helping the musicians and restaurants still earn an income.
People are protesting the mistreatment of our Black brothers and sisters. Organizations are offering racial equity challenges to educate us on all the injustices people are facing and actions we can take to end it. People are donating money to organizations that help support our Black and Brown brothers and sisters in ways they have not before.
As we continue to read about the raising of Lazarus, we know Jesus took action, too.
Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice,* “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.” (John 11:41-44)
Time and time again Jesus would show compassion by healing. We are showing compassion, too, by making and wearing masks, donating to help those in need, and peacefully protesting the mistreatment of people because of the color of their skin. We, like Jesus, are showing love in times of brokenness.
Our world feels broken right now. I can still see the face of Christ.
In Matthew’s gospel, the Pharisees asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is. Jesus replies,
You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)
Even through the brokenness, through all the pain and suffering we are facing, we are doing what we have been told and shown by Jesus to do-love our neighbor, show compassion to those suffering, and help those in need. We are all in this together. So, let’s continue to imitate Christ by our actions. Let’s continue to help those who are in need. Let’s continue to be grateful for those who can help us during this difficult time. And let’s continue to remember, that even though everything feels broken right now that we can continue to love God and show our love by imitating Christ.
- You can read the entire story of the Raising of Lazarus here.
- Here are a few other examples of Jesus showing compassion and helping others:
- Spiritual Support for COVID-19 and Racial Justice
- You can see more of Rolland Golden’s work here.
Photo “Escape from Eden” by Rolland Golden, used with permission.